Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

'Get outta ze cab!'

By Simon Busch, CNN
updated 10:06 AM EDT, Wed August 21, 2013
Rudest taxi drivers on the planet? Let's give that one a Gallic shrug.
Rudest taxi drivers on the planet? Let's give that one a Gallic shrug.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Study names French world's rudest taxi drivers
  • All study survey subjects were British
  • New York cabbies are entertaining storytellers
  • A London black cab driver tells all

"The City" is a CNN International special series that profiles the sustainable urban future of five cities over five days. Watch the show every day during our special theme week starting Monday, Aug 19 on "World Business Today" at 1300 GMT and "Connect The World" at 2000 GMT.

(CNN) -- Who hasn't left a strange airport wondering not just whether you should be in this taxi but whether it even is one -- only to be charmed, amused or unexpectedly edified by the person behind the wheel.

Or, it's true, bored to death, humiliated or even ripped off.

How cities fight climate change

Now an online booking service called Airporttransfers has released a survey of 2,162 recent British vacationers, asking them to name the meanest, nastiest, take-the-longest-route-and-still-expect-a-tip taxi drivers on the planet.

Johannesburg mayor's vision for future

Travel shocker! British tourists consider French cabbies rude

Rotterdam's floating future

And get outta ze cab! It's the French.

But -- and here we perform some fabulously expressive gesticulation whose meaning is "leave my hired vehicle immediately" -- it's also the Italians.

That's right: the two European nations have drawn up level at the traffic lights and been judged equally rude.

But for every offensive action, there's an equal and opposite reaction -- which brings us to Greece.

Some of its taxi drivers, those on the island of Rhodes, were judged among the friendliest on the planet.

The news comes on the heels of findings that people on another Greek isle, Ikaria, are among those with the longest life expectancy on Earth.

Diet has a lot to do with it, but so, too, does a famously laid-back attitude -- something that might have infected the Rhodes cabbies.

But what about those British vacationers?

Could it be that their collective offense-taking at the cab driving Jean-Pierres and Patrizias of this world comes from the famous reluctance of the French and Italians to speak English just because the British do?

NYC cabbies -- let them tell you a story.
NYC cabbies -- let them tell you a story.

Rides worldwide

To broaden the field a bit, what do non-Brits think of cab drivers worldwide?

Asking around our well traveled staff produced some passionate responses.

Tokyo cabbies wear suits, white gloves and put doilies and plastic covers on all upholstery.

Nice.

But they're easily inflamed.

"Don't touch the door!" warns one editor. "That's for the driver to operate in your first moment of ultra-impressive service."

"Hong Kong taxi drivers can be mean and whiny if you're not going far or stuck in a lucrative traffic jam," says associate producer (and local) Maggie Wong.

"And, as second-jobbing small businessmen, they all have multiple mobile phones on the dash, so forget about small talk."

World's best taxis

Top storytellers

Next to London's beetle-shaped black cruisers, New York yellow cabs must be the most recognizable in the world. You'd expect New York cabbies to be sassy -- but rude?

"Are you rude to them?" parries Payal Dixit, an Upper West Side NYC resident in her early thirties.

"I've found that New York cab drivers are some of the best storytellers -- a simple 'hello' can get them going.

"Some don't want to be bothered, but most enjoy sharing their adventures, whether it be about celebrity passengers or their lives in a foreign country you dream of visiting."

Now, we bet he\'d have reason to be cranky ...
Now, we bet he'd have reason to be cranky ...

View from the front

Dixit raises a good point. What's the view from the front seat?

"You know, 99% of people are as nice as pie," says Steve McNamara, general secretary of the British Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, himself behind the wheel of a London cab for 30 years. (Another, global survey, it should be said, has consistently rated London's legendary black taxis the best in the world.)

"Cab driving restores your faith in humanity. It can be trying when people say, 'I'm staying at the hotel with the green door.' Don't you know there are 8,000 hotels in London?

"And you get obnoxious people who've been drinking -- but that's not as common as you might think.

"The 1% -- the loonies -- can be right wing, left wing, Christian or Muslim. Drivers always say, put 'em all together in an island in the Atlantic!"

Pull up here

We're getting out here.

In the comments section, share your stories of being charmed, amused or unexpectedly edified by the person by the wheel.

Or bored to death, humiliated or even ripped off.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
A foreign language can be the best aphrodisiac, so we traveled the world in search of the hottest accents.
updated 3:35 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Hidden from the rest of the world for decades, Myanmar's Lethwei boxing is experiencing a revival globally.
updated 7:17 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
This aging cargo work whale makes more than 60 flights each week, carrying parts for all of the Airbus programs.
updated 7:32 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Vikings, vicious politics and vindaloo curries -- Scotland isn't all tartan and bagpipes.
updated 8:26 PM EDT, Sun September 14, 2014
Former brothels, public toilets and war bunkers now provide eccentric watering holes for those willing to drink deep.
updated 11:04 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Ushaka Marine World, Durban, South Africa
Joburg is trendy, Cape Town is glamorous, but Durban has style -- and a restaurant inside a shark tank.
updated 3:56 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Tirana's nightlife
Former Tirana stronghold of a totalitarian leader now home to a pulsing clubs and bar scene.
updated 11:38 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Whether filled with electric blue sulfur flames or hissing lava, these mega mountains offer incredible vistas.
updated 8:40 PM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
This once-a-year luxury cruise visits untouched islands and never-snorkeled reefs.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Peter J. Goutiere was just shy of 30 years old when he piloted a Douglas C-47 from Miami to Kolkata, India.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Breathtaking scenery, championship design -- many of the courses dropped into the Canadian Rockies are among the most memorable in the world.
updated 9:06 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
A floating hippo in the Thames river designed by artist Florentijn Hofman
Why Florentijn Hofman is sending a giant beast into London's River Thames.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
Scrap all those other bucket lists you've been compiling and start saving -- these memorable-for-a-lifetime trips don't come cheap, or easy.
updated 8:42 PM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
A squabble over a device that limits how far a seat can recline has brought inflight etiquette into the spotlight again.
updated 6:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Thirst for victory competes with thirst for booze in event where competitors raise their glasses long before they cross the finish line.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT