Amsterdam Taxi drivers, still not to be trusted

Last week the Shallow Man read the results of a survey of the Amsterdam Taxi branch carried out by the gemeente. Two hundred and one mystery shopper journeys were taken in taxis, of which only 25% were in full compliance with the updated Taxi law that went into practice last year in Amsterdam. I was genuinely shocked that the figure of was so high. In spite of improvements the councils own survey proves, the majority of drivers are still trying their usual bag of tricks.

The Shallow Man will provide his own view of common challenges faced when using taxis in Amsterdam.

1. TCA and the romantic date

Ever had a romantic date planned? One where you want to impress the person you’re planning to have dinner with by picking her up in a taxi? I once used the TCA app. I should have used Uber but was running late and they didn’t have any cars available at short notice, so I used the app to get a cab from TCA. I was not amused when a buggering great minibus taxi arrived. All I could say to my date was, “It’s good to have space in a relationship”.

TCA taxi

The latest TCA taxi for driving through the Bijlmer

2. The computer says no

Only in the Netherlands can you have a Taxi app with an attitude problem. A friend of the Shallow Man once ordered a cab using a smartphone app. He kept the driver waiting for a couple of minutes and then decided that he wouldn’t need the taxi after all. He paid the driver for the waiting time and apologised. A few days later when he used the app again to order a taxi, the app told him (in German apparently) that as he’d kept one the drivers waiting, he was suspended from using the service.

3. The frustrated night club DJ

I love it when I get into a taxi and the driver after I tell him the destination, grunts like a pig in acknowledgement. He then proceeds to turn the radio up loud, ear bleeding bloody loud. To my joy, the driver is always listening to some diabolical song, you know the kind, a song with pounding generic house beats, over which some tuneless female singer is howling a deep meaningful set of lyrics over and over again, for example, “Ooh I’ll tell you what’s true, I want to do it with you. Ooh I’ll tell you what’s true, I want to do it with you. I want to do it with you, you, you.” At this point rather than strangle the taxi driver, which is my initial impulse, I politely ask him to turn the thing masquerading as music down. Which to his credit he does. For about thirty seconds there’s peace, and then he makes a hands free phone call and in a language that’s not Dutch or English shouts ” مساء الخير واش ممكن تحدر بشوية؟واش ممكن تحدر بشوية؟واش ممكن تحدر بشوية؟واش ممكن تحدر بشوية FOCKER  BASTARD تحدر بشوحدر بشوحدر بشوحدر بشوحدر بشوحدر بشو  , IDIOT تحدر بشوية؟واش ممكن تح that will be twelve euros have a nice evening.

result of using Amsterdam taxis

You must stop taking taxis in Amsterdam


4. The meter moves faster than Usain Bolt

When in a taxi, especially if you’ve picked one up in the street at night, watch the meter carefully. Several times in Amsterdam I’ve had “discussions” with drivers when I’ve asked them why the meter continues to turnover at such a fast pace even when stopped at traffic lights. On one journey after only a couple of kilometers the fare was already nearing the twenty euro mark. When I questioned this the driver threw us out of the taxi, which was excellent as we were within a couple of minutes of our destination anyway, and thus, had a free taxi ride from central station.

5. Taxi drivers love it when you speak English

Have you ever had this? You get into a cab. The driver looks miserable. He asks you the destination in Dutch, you respond in English and his entire demeanour changes. His mood improves, he’s smiling. This dear reader is not because he’s really interested in meeting people from other countries, in reality, like the old cartoons where a character would suddenly have dollar signs in their eyes, the driver is eyeing you up like a frikandel in a container at FEBO. Previously hidden creativity comes to the fore with the driver if you ask him an unreasonable question such as “why are you driving to Amstelveen? I got in at central station and want to go to Leidseplein”. With a look of indignation the driver responds “there was a tram broken down in the center of town, lots of traffic, it’s much quicker to drive through Amstelveen first. Yes it will add twenty seven point eight kilometers to the journey, but it’s much quicker, trust me.” Taxi drivers assume if you speak English that you are a clueless tourist or are too rich to complain and hopefully completely ignorant about how to get around in Amsterdam.

6. You want to go where? Minimum cost is twenty euros

The Shallow Man will admit that there has been some improvement in this area in the last year. It’s late at night, you see a taxi, you get in, tell him where you’d like to go and the driver immediately names an inflated fixed price. “Rembrandtplein to Leidseplein? Twenty euros”. Never, ever negotiate a fixed price with a taxi driver. It’s illegal for them to do this. Insist on them using the meter. If they refuse to take you, tell them that you’ll make a note of the their taxi number and will report them to All licensed taxis in Amsterdam must have a three digit number clearly displayed on the roof of the vehicle. If you see a taxi that doesn’t have this, then this means that it’s a unlicensed and therefore illegal, and you shouldn’t get into it under any circumstances.

If you have a bad experience with a Taxi anywhere in the Netherlands, file a complaint at the following site.

No greedy and lazy taxi drivers were hurt during the writing of this post.


Listen to the Amsterdam Shallow Man every Friday on English Breakfast Radio from 7am to 9am CET.