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Taxis in Panama City

Rehovot, Israel
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50 posts
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Taxis in Panama City

Taxis in Panama City must be among the cheapest in the world! I don't know how they make any profit, They are all yellow vehicles, privately owned. Ir seems that about evey third vehicle in the city is a taxi! The drivers, as a rule, speak only Spanish, Taxi fares within the ciry are generally $2 to $3. However, I advise settling on the price before you get into the taxi, so as to avoid an unpleasant experience, such as we had one time.

We had taken three taxi rides from our hotel to a particular address previously, and had paid $2 each time. So we didn't discuss the price in advance for the fourth ride, assuming it would be the same. When we arrived at our destination, my husband gave the driver $2. No, the driver said, it is $4. We refused to pay the extra money, and walked away with him yelling and threatening (I presume, since we don't speak Spanish) until we entered our building. Luckily, that was our last taxi ride in Panama, so there was no chance we would encounter that driver again.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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5,784 posts
75 reviews
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1. Re: Taxis in Panama City

Wonderful advice coffeemavenswife, thanks - always negotiate the price prior. Sometimes you get a dishonest cabbie and is always a good idea to learn a little English prior to coming to Latin America - so you can understand how to ask the prices; understand when they tell you how much,

etc. I have had two amazing (scary) rides in taxis in PC, didn't know if I would live thru them - they drove so crazily, dangerously and erractically, I should have asked to stop and be let out. But for the most part, they have been fine.

P.S. Travelers, if you see the driver seemingly confused about the address you are going to, and starts studying a map, don't drive with that driver.

Rehovot, Israel
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50 posts
196 reviews
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2. Re: Taxis in Panama City

I guess you meant to say learn a little Spanish. We didlearn a few words, including numbers and "how much?." We even typed up a "crib sheet" of words we thought we might need. It was helpful.

It's not only taxi drivers who drive erratically. We had a tour guide, who gesticulated with both hands while driving at about 65 mph! And pedestrians take their lives in their hands when they try to cross the street, even at crosswalks. Drivers do not stop. We learned to wait until a group of people were crossing, and then went with them.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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5,784 posts
75 reviews
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3. Re: Taxis in Panama City

Yes, I did mean Spanish - good catch. Our two drivers were more than "erractic", heck we are even erractic driving in PC - have to be and aggressive too. The drivers I speak of were psychos, and way way beyond anything I have ever experienced in my life.

Australia
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61 posts
39 reviews
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4. Re: Taxis in Panama City

The taxis are not all yellow.

Even the legal ones are not all yellow.

Dear PC experts

How can one tell which is a legal PC taxi?

I believe that one way is that the numberplates at the front and the back are the same.

Is that correct?

Boston, MA
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68 posts
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5. Re: Taxis in Panama City

We recently had a cab ride from hell going from the airport to Marriott Hotel. I would suggest arranging airport transfer in advance. After the miserable experience we used Marriott Hotel cabs for a week knowing we were paying more but the comfort factor was important.

Panama City, Panama
Destination Expert
for Panama
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1,967 posts
6 reviews
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6. Re: Taxis in Panama City

Not sure when you were here last Syd but things changed as of January 2nd this year.

The new government finally stopped the delays and all taxis are now yellow - if they weren't yellow they had to be removed from service until they were painted and if they aren't painted by the beginning of March they will lose their operating licence.

Taxi's have a T or an RI licence plate on the back and the regular licence plate is supposed to be on the front of the car.

There are also vehicles that have SET plates - these are tourist "taxis" or special transportation licences - used by tour operators for their buses etc. and the special taxis that hang out at the big hotels. These are not yellow and they have a different fare structure - a lot more expensive than the street taxis.

Always try to get the price before heading out and if you think it's too high say "no". Where I have found that the drivers really charge high is at MultiPlaza - the taxis that wait by Tony Roma's always want double what the fare should be - have had some good shouting matches with them!!!!

Cheers,

Andrew

Rehovot, Israel
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50 posts
196 reviews
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7. Re: Taxis in Panama City

If you mean the license plates, they are only in the back. There are numbers on the sides of the taxis. We never saw one that wasn't yellow.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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5,784 posts
75 reviews
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8. Re: Taxis in Panama City

We experienced a taxi driver that wanted to charge us $30.00 for a return trip from the Miraflores Locks back to Ancon Hill. I was flabbergasted, walked away and found one for $8.00 - even that was alot, I think.

Australia
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9. Re: Taxis in Panama City

Thanks AndrewGW for that information.

I was last there in December 2009, i.e. 2 months ago.

So I just missed out on the new system.

Having the taxi plate only on the back is a real nuisance, because you don't know whether a moving taxi is a legal one until it has gone past you and you have missed it.

Once I rode in a yellow car with a taxi sign on the roof, but the sign was removable and it was not a legal taxi, so colour and roof sign are not enough proof.

Edited: 19 February 2010, 02:11
Panama City, Panama
Destination Expert
for Panama
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10. Re: Taxis in Panama City

All their taxi signs are removable as they take them off when they are off duty and using their car for private purposes.

Taxi's always have their licence number painted on their doors and most now also have the black and white checked stripe down the side.

They are usually going too fast to see licence plates anyway - just stick your arm out and wave downwards to flag them down - don't be surprised if there's someone already in the car - they often double up so they can make a few bucks - if they are already going in the same general direction they will take you. If you don't want to share, just say so.

Cheers,

Andrew