Frugal taxi tactics in Wellington

September 10, 2008

There are times when you have to take a taxi. We fellow frugal people understand. We do not judge. Perhaps it is part of your frugal car-free strategy, or maybe you just can’t face a late-night walk home. But if you must cab it, you can be frugal at it.

I have a regular engagement in town after work. I end up taking a taxi at least once a week, which is still cheaper than all-day parking and more bearable than a long wait for a bus and a longer uphill walk from the bus tunnel. There are several factors in taxi hire that have a bearing on the final fare.

Choice of firm

The cheapest firms are Capital, Green and then Combined, in that order. When I last checked, they were $2.50, $2.50 and $2.75 per km respectively. The others are significantly more expensive both for flagfall and for tariff per kilometre. On my route home from Courtenay Place the most expensive firms are over $3 more expensive than the cheapest.

Method of hire

All firms charge an extra fee for phone hire, typically $1. Therefore if there is a rank nearby you should go there.

Choice of route

There are two ways to get my house from town: the obvious way, and the cheap way, about $2 cheaper. I have no compunction about telling the driver which way to go, and neither should you. One or two have grizzled, but I don’t care.

Location of pickup

Taxis charge for waiting time, and per km. Therefore if you are in the centre of town, and you have ten minutes up your sleeve to walk to a rank on the periphery, avoiding red lights and the one-way system, you can save several dollars. The advanced student could try timing getting in the taxi with the phase of the lights, but that could be taking it too far.

So, following all these strategies in my case amounts to over $5 difference between the cheapest and the most expensive choices, which is nearly two cheese puffs in any given week, but $250 over a year. I’d like to find $250 in my jacket pocket, wouldn’t you?


How could I have forgotten the most important commandment? Be nice to the driver and make small talk. Not only is this the polite thing to do, they’re more inclined to round down the fair, like the nice driver from Capital did tonight.



  1. Argh, don’t remind me. Flew home late last night from Sydney, taxi from Auckland airport to home after midnight, $101.20. Grump.

  2. Capital Taxis are the cheapest. Trust me. When I go home I catch either Green or Capital depending on who is on the rank and Capital Taxis are definitely cheaper than Green Cabs.

  3. You are quite right, TimeOut – I have updated accordingly.

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