Taxis in Mexico City

Information about the types of taxis operating in Mexico City - including sitios, radio taxis and airport taxis...


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About taxis in Mexico City

There are many different types and colors of taxi in Mexico City.

Finding an address in the city is not always easy, as many street addresses are without a number (sin número). It is common in Mexico City to not only provide the street name and number (if it exists), but also to state between which perpendicular streets the address is located. Taxi drivers should have a good knowledge of the city, and tend to know their local area well.

All taxis should have the number plate of the taxi painted on the bonnet and doors as a security measure. Also, taxi drivers are required to display their license, including a photo of the driver, which must be clearly visible inside the cab. It is advisable to check that the photo and the driver correspond and only get in to a taxi where the painted number matches the number plates of the taxi.

It is customary to tip the taxi driver when the journey has been made using a taximeter. Tips may also be given for fixed price journeys but they are not expected.

Not all taxis carry receipts. If a receipt is needed, check before getting into the cab.

With the exception of authorized taxis all cabs are required to have working taxi meters (taximetros). Although it is common practice to negotiate flat fares (and it may be implied that this is the only option), taxis are legally obligated to use taximetros by default. Passengers who do not wish to negotiate a flat fare should ensure that a taxi has a working taximetro as they enter the taxi, and that the driver turns it on at the beginning of the trip. If a driver refuses to activate the meter, passengers are within their right to ask to be let off without payment.

Flat fares in radio taxis are provided in a government-approved schedule and are not subject to negotiation. When negotiating fares in other types of taxi, this should be done at the beginning of a trip. Note that it is common practice to negotiate flat rates after 8pm.

Special meter rates apply for weekends and holidays. During the daytime, meters should be set to category 3; the weekend/holiday setting is category 5. At night, a different fare schedule is applied.

Note: There are different fare schemes and starting rates for different kinds of taxis.

Passengers should ensure that they have small bills, as it is frequently the case that drivers will not have change for larger denominations.

Passengers should not expect drivers to speak English. For this reason, it may be helpful to have the address written down, or to have a smartphone app open to a map location. Older vehicles will very rarely have GPS.

Types of Taxi

Taxi Libre: Currently, the majority of these 'street taxis' are burgundy and gold, but all taxis are required to adopt a white and pink color scheme by 2017. They usually have a light on the roof and a “Taxi” sign attached to the windscreen on the passenger side.

These taxis are hailed by passengers on the street. They are licensed, and must have the driver’s photo clearly displayed. They are the most cost effective taxi with the lowest fare setting; they also tend to be older vehicles. Flat fares may be negotiated if driver and passenger are willing.

These taxis are unregulated in the sense that they do not report to a dispatcher when they pick up a passenger. For this reason, passengers in ‘street taxis’ should have some sense of the route to their destination, remain alert to their surroundings, avoid giving personal information (including names) to the driver, and be aware of calls made or taken by the driver on a personal cell phone. Although not a common occurrence, these taxis have been implicated in 'express kidnappings' and other crimes against their passengers.

Sitio (or 'stand') taxi: These taxis are generally white, with older cars still having the burgundy and gold color scheme and newer cars already adopting the incoming pink and white scheme. Both radio and sitio taxies will be clearly marked as “taxis” with radio taxis being specifically identified as such. They may or may not have roof-lights.

These taxis are linked to particular taxi stands, or sitios, and are regulated by a controller/dispatcher usually operating from or near a small enclosed shelter with a window, although they may also operate from along the taxi line. As well as managing taxi flow, controllers are available to answer questions (in Spanish). The dispatcher will obtain and record destination information.

Both radio and sitio taxis are required to have working taximetros, and to use them if asked. However, radio taxis also operate according to a fixed-fare schedule that has been approved by the government, which is non-negotiable. While a passenger may prefer to use a taximetro in a radio taxi, any disputes about fares will be resolved with reference to the approved schedule. Radio taxis are generally newer and more comfortable vehicles, and for this reason have the highest metered fare schedule.

Flat fares are commonly negotiated with sitio taxis, but these are not regulated. If a passenger prefers a fixed rate, this should be negotiated with the controller before entering the taxi. It is often possible to arrange for day rates at a fixed hourly fee. Some sitios operate a telephone booking service and pick up clients from specific destinations. These taxis charge extra for coming to the pickup site and the extra amount varies from one taxi company to another. This extra amount may or may not appear on the taximeter at the beginning of a journey, so it is advisable to check how much extra will be charged.

Authorized Taxis: These taxis only accept passengers at specific transportation hubs such as airports or bus terminals, and these are the only taxis allowed to do so (other taxis may drop passengers off at these locations but are not allowed to pick them up). Authorized taxis operate on a pre-paid basis, with tickets being sold at kiosks within airport or bus terminals. Fares are calculated by zone. Fairs are higher than for other taxis, and vehicles are newer models.

Hotel taxis: these taxis are more akin to a limousine service, and exclusively pick up passengers at hotels; they offer fixed-rate fares that are significantly higher than other taxis.

App-based services: As an alternative to standard tax services, there are several app-based on-demand transportation options available. These services allow people to request rides from registered drivers, select different levels of service, and make payments online.

Available apps for Mexico City include:

  • Uber: (Apple, Android and Windows). Sign up to Uber and register 
  • Easy Taxi: (Apple, Android, Windows, Samsung) Activate the app from your phone
  • Yaxi: (Apple, Android) Spanish only

Taxis in the Estado de Mexico

Different regulations apply in Mexico State (Estado de Mexico). Some of the Northern and Northwestern parts of Mexico City – including the residential areas of Interlomas – are in the State of Mexico.

Taxis in the Estado de Mexico do not have meters. Many taxi stands operate fixed fares to specific destinations or areas. Otherwise the fare should be negotiated with the driver. As most drivers don’t speak English it may be useful for non-Spanish speakers to have the destination address written down to give to the driver, and to be accompanied by a Spanish speaker to do the negotiation. Fares need to be negotiated when hailing a taxi in the street.

When a Mexico City taxi is used to go to an address in the Estado de Mexico the meter fare shown is not the applicable fare. Double charging applies once the taxi leaves the CDMX area (the double charge only applies to the part of the journey outside the CDMX area). It is therefore advisable to ask to be notified when leaving the CDMX area so that the total fare requested by the taxi driver can be checked.

Mexico City taxis may not pick up clients in the Estado de Mexico (or anywhere else outside the CDMX). Similarly Estado de Mexico taxis are not allowed to make pickups in the CDMX.

Useful Phrases

  • Do you have a taximeter?  - ¿Tienes taximetro?
  • Please put the meter on - Ponga el taximetro por favor
  • I want to go to ….. - Quiero ir a ……
  • How much do I owe you? – ¿Cuanto te debo?
  • Do you have receipts? - ¿Tienes recibos?