Taxi in Melbourne are highly regulated and are a very reliable way to get from A to B without negotiating the public transport network. All taxis are required to be painted bright yellow, so they are easily recognisable. Available taxis will have a ‘for hire’ light illuminated on their roof. Throughout the CBD, taxis (and taxi ranks) are plentiful and you should have no trouble hailing one spontaneously. This can change after midnight and on weekends for special events (such as Melbourne Cup or the Formula 1 Race).

The majority of Melbourne taxi drivers are overworked and underpaid, so even small tips (while not expected) are greatly appreciated by drivers that you consider to have earned it. As many drivers are new arrivals here themselves and may not be intimately familiar with the city, be prepared to give directions if you are trying to get to a destination anywhere outside of the immediate CBD.

Charges are calculated by meters that are clearly visible, so you can keep track of your fare. All fares are posted in writing on the interior passengers’ side windows of the taxi. Drivers must always wear a uniform and have an identity card on show at all times.

The following standard fares and charges apply to all taxis in Melbourne, regardless of the company:

Flagfall $3.20 when meter is started
Distance $1.61 per kilometre
Time $0.56 per minute if the speed is below 21 kilometres per hour

Additional charges apply for taxis carrying six or more passengers and for phone bookings. Any toll fees for using the Citylink freeway will be included in your total, and an airport rank surcharge is mandatory if you hailed from the airport taxi rank. Fares between 12am-5am are subject to a 20% surcharge, and if you are getting in the cab anywhere in the CBD during this time, you may be required to pay in advance (based on predetermined estimate cost to destination).

A typical journey from Melbourne Airport to the CBD will cost $55 to $60 and will take about 25 minutes. A trip from one end of the CBD to the other will be around $7 to $8.

Once you are more familiar with Melbourne, it is possible to bargain with your cabbie. While not all drivers will be receptive to this cheeky tactic, it has been known to work for short distances, when the fuel difference won’t be noticeable to the cab company. It involves asking your driver to leave the meter switched off, in exchange for a cash payment of slightly less than the usual fare. Although this is a loss of profit for the cab company, it saves you a few bucks and gives a woefully underpaid cabbie a bit of extra cash in his pocket.

The main taxi companies are: