Taxi test: you get what you pay for

PHOTO: Erik Prozes

Postimees tested different taxi companies in Tallinn and Tartu to detect the price gaps and feel the experience offered for the money.

For the rides, we picked late evenings of the week-ends – then it is the custom for taxi companies to lift prices. «This is totally random, depends on one’s business instinct,» commented a taxi driver called Sergei, regarding rising the rates in the evenings.  

To launch off, we ordered a cab to the popular Lastemaailm store front parking lot in Tallinn, in city centre, asking to be taken to about four kilometres, to Kristiine/Mustamäe border.

In Tallinn, we ordered a taxi by the Estonian-made mobile app Taxify now also gaining popularity elsewhere in Europe. The taxi drivers said it took about a year before the app reached current popularity. «Probably, the future rests on this alone,» thinks Sergei.

The end price of the ride varied within 4 euros – the cheapest was €4.5 and the dearest €8.5.

As to the quality and interior of the car, it’s broadly you get what you paid for. A glaring exception is the electric Elektritakso: with its touch screens and other gadgets it looked like a space ship while among the cheapest by its €5.5 bill.

Elektritakso has not been in Tallinn for long yet; still today, it is more popular in Tartu and Pärnu, said a driver called Dimitri. «I would not like to own an electric car myself, but it’s rather nice driving it around in the town,» he added, praising the smooth and noiseless ride. He said he usually needs to charge the car once or twice during a shift.

The Tallink taxi, the most expensive as was expected, a positive surprise was the discount offered by rather many customer cards – and it’s cheaper for students. With Tulika taxi, the advantage is that a bus and a car cost the same.

In Tartu, we also tried a couple of taxis driving four kilometres, but a bit before the «juiciest time». That’s, at least, what a cabby called Ermo said regarding evenings.

The Takso 2 driving Ermo said the student city has heavy taxi traffic towards city centre till 1:30 at night. They get busy again at about 4 to 5 am as the folks in clubs and bars start dreaming about their beds and pillows.

«And, in between, they do ride from Maasikas to Atlantis, and vice versa,» noted the man. While walking, it is about 500 metres between these two nightclubs. By car, it’s about twice as much.  

Ermo said taxi drivers need to read people well. «You look in his face and take a decision. Why risk your life for €5,» said the Takso 2 driver, citing years of experience.

While it takes much faster to drive from one end to Tartu to other than in Tallinn, the taxis never stand idle. «They go to somebody’s place, or a sauna at the edge of town,» related Ermo. He said basically the customer base is such as orders the cab to the door and is happy to pay by card. «Thus, we need to spend less time at the stops and the clients are otherwise, somehow,» he added.

Taxi firm in Tallinn

Bill: Lastemaailm – Kristiine (€)

Amigo takso

4.50

Saksa takso

5.90

Sõbra takso

5.0

Tallink takso

8.5

Elektritakso

5.5

Tulika takso

6.75

Taxi firm in Tartu

Bill: Arch bridge  – post office (€)

Takso 2

5.95

Elektritakso

5.50

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