The Damn in Amsterdam: Cabbies and Cowboys
Contributing writer Cathy Healy isn’t completely smitten with all things Amsterdam. After wrangling with the taxis in the city, she was happy to report that some changes are in the works.
For about five years, Amsterdam has offered a version of taxi freedom that borders on anarchy: You can take any cab you want in the taxi line, but cabbies don’t have to accept you as a customer, and often they don’t.
The Amsterdam Municipal Council is sauntering to the rescue. As of March 1, 2008—well in time for tulips and tourists—only “quality taxis” with a permit and qualified drivers who know the city will be allowed to carry passengers from the Central Train Station. The Council will decide later whether to also insist on quality taxis at Rembrandt and Lidese squares, which are popular gathering places.
In the meantime, be prepared to find legit cabbies and their “cowboy” counterparts at the train station. This means you’ll stagger off the train from the airport after an all-night flight, carrying too much luggage, and find two lines of cabs and a pack of guys hanging around talking. If you’re not a 30-40 euro customer, they’ll pretend they don’t know the street where your hotel is, even if it is one of the main canal streets in central Amsterdam.
Don’t despair. Look for a TCA cab. This company is the oldest and the biggest in the city, and– get this – they actually will accept an 11 euro fare (for about an 11-minute ride.)
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My driver, Vincent, explained about cabbies and “cowboys” – his phrase. Vincent also warned that base rates vary, so always look in the lower left-hand corner of the windshield where rates must be posted. The meter starts anywhere from 3.80 euros (TCA) to 4.20 euros (the cowboys).
Personally, I’m looking forward to March.
Photo: Stefan Baak