Budapest taxis are in effect a mafia – avoid them at all cost. Uber has been outlawed in Hungary because it threatened the monopoly of taxi companies. Although Budapest taxis should now in principle be regulated, and their fares have doubled a couple of years ago as a result of lobbying by owners of taxi companies close to the government, illegal activities have increased further. If you read the Hungarian investigative reports, a significant proportion of taxis have no licence or insurance, manipulate their meters, attempt to rip off tourists whenever possible, and even engage in physical violence (there were several such cases recently). There are some taxi stands (near the railway stations, Oktogon, etc.) that are effectively run by criminals and are only willing to take foreigners who are then significantly overcharged and physically threatened. Hotel taxis are also a cosy monopoly where selected drivers overcharge tourists and then pay a kick-back to the hotel reception staff for allowing them to operate from there. If you do not speak Hungarian, simply avoid taxis and use the frequent, safe, and cheap public transport instead – it is surprisingly easy, stops are even announced in English. As for the airport taxis, that is another story – again, it is a monopoly, there is no competition, and just one taxi company is allowed to operate from there. On the whole, taxis are best avoided in Hungary – it is a jungle, and sometimes a dangerous one, as several tourists have been beaten up by taxi drivers recently.
— kadimre Today
Conventional wisdom is that there is some degree of risk in using the taxis in Budapest. This is particularly true with the independent taxis at the train stations and independent taxis that are flagged down on the street.
Note that in Budapest taxi fares are not regulated by the government. This is no longer true, fares have now been regulated, at about double the rate than what was the level when there was free competition. If you were to pay 3000ft for a trip that one of the major companies would charge 1000ft for no crime has been committed so long as a lower fare was not represented prior to the trip. It is this misunderstanding that adds to the concern over the independent taxi drivers.
It could also be suggested that without an established company to screen and enforce standards of conduct that each independent driver is, well……….independent. This may result in some heightened risks but evidence of actual crime is very difficult to uncover on the Internet. Still, the Hungarian Police and the U.S. State Department recommend calling an established Taxi Company when in need of a cab. The only stated reasons by either entity are quality and cost. This article will stay away from the topic of Independent taxis and transfers to and from the airport and the train stations, as well as private drivers; and concentrate on in-town transportation via one of the established taxi companies.
This article looks at three companies, but this is in no way an endorsement of those companies or a lack of endorsement of the many other companies. The three companies, City Taxi, FoTaxi and Taxi2000 are among those most commonly cited as having been used, or as being of good quality. City Taxi advertises a number of awards for quality and service on their website. The most recent of these awards is 2007. Not listed on their website is their 2011 “Best of Budapest” award. FoTaxi claims, “FŐTAXI Inc is Hungary’s oldest – Europe’s seventh – and still the most popular taxi company of Budapest for 103 years (founded 1913)”. FoTaxi is also the sanctioned taxi company serving the Budapest airport. Taxi2000 is the newest of the three companies and appears to be competing primarily on a cost basis.
For Standard taxis there are a number of opinions and preferences, BudapestHotels.com provides this list in “order of preference”
Taxi 4 4-444-444 http://www.taxi4.hu/en/index.php
City Taxi 2-111-111 http://www.citytaxi.hu/index.php?lang=en
Fõ Taxi 2-222-222
Rádió Taxi 7-777-7777 http://www.radiotaxi.hu/index_eng.php
Tele5 5-555-5555 http://www.tele5taxi.hu/
Hello Taxi +36 1 8-888-666
Airport Collections provide a safe hassle-free way to book a transfer anywhere in Budapest.