Medellín Taxi Guide – 2016 Update With New Fares

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Taxis in front of Premium Plaza mall
Taxis in front of Premium Plaza mall

Medellín recently increased taxi fares so we provide an updated Medellín Taxi Guide.  Yellow taxis are ubiquitous in Medellín and they are relatively inexpensive by Western standards.

There are about 30 taxi companies registered with the city of Medellín and several more taxi companies in the neighboring municipalities like Envigado and Sabaneta.

On August 10, taxi fares increased in Medellín. The last time that taxi fares increased in Medellín was in 2014. Taxi drivers will have until September 1 to adjust taximeters in taxis.

New 2016 Taxi Fares in Medellín

The following are the new taxi fares in Medellín:

  • Taximeter starts at 3,000 pesos, which is up from 2,700 pesos
  • Minimum fare is 5,000 pesos, up from 4,600 pesos
  • Fare for every 78 meters is 87 pesos, up from 83 pesos
  • Fare to wait 60 seconds is 87 pesos, up from 83 pesos
  • Fare for an hour of contracted time is 27,000 pesos, up from 24,000 pesos
  • Fare to José María Córdova international airport is 65,000 pesos, up from 60,000 pesos

Taxi drivers are only legally permitted to charge the new fares if they have a new 2016 sticker in the windshield. All yellow taxis with Medellín license plates should have taximeters updated by September 1 with a new window sticker.

Reportedly a fine of about 344,000 pesos will be used to punish drivers who charge the new fares without a new windshield sticker.

Any irregularity of taxi drivers charging new fees without a new winder sticker may be reported to the Secretaría de Movilidad. You will need the license plate number (placa) that is also on the sides of taxis. You also need the location, the fare and approximate time of the fare.

Note that the new fares apply to taxis with a Medellín license plate. I confirmed that Envigado and Itagüí have also raised taxi fares to match and will have a new 2016 sticker in the front window.

Other municipalities in the Aburrá Valley like Sabaneta and Bello haven’t yet increased fares to match. But they are expected to.

Taxis at Sabaneta metro station
Taxis at Sabaneta metro station

Guide to Taking Taxis on the Street

Hailing a yellow taxi on the street in Medellín is as simple as holding up your arm.

During the daytime, you should be fairly safe picking up taxis from the street.  However exercise caution in the evenings.

Throughout the city, and often near points of interest, shopping centers, metro stations and local landmarks, you’ll see taxi stands where taxis queue up for customers.  If you see one of these, it makes the process even easier.

Sometimes a person working for a taxi company will be standing near the taxis keeping them organized.

While other times, locals will be helping to direct passengers to specific taxi drivers.  Drivers will then tip them a few coins in exchange for their help in attracting a customer. These people expect the tip from the driver, not you, so don’t give them any money.

All Medellin yellow taxis use digital taximeters. When you get in, check to make sure there is a meter and it’s working. If not, tell the driver to turn on the taximeter (activar el taxímetro) or take another taxi.

The Safest Approach to Taking Taxis

I have never encountered a problem in hailing taxis on the street in over six years living in Medellín. However there is a safer approach that I also use that is recommended by many Colombians.

  1. Call a taxi company to send you a registered taxi. Some fijo numbers for taxis include 444-4444, 444-5555 and 444-9999. If you call from a home phone number (landline), they will know your address if you have used the service before. The taxi company will often provide you a secret code (typically 2 to 4 digits) that you have to give to the driver so the driver can confirm he has the right person.
  1. Use Easy Taxi or Tappsi mobile apps on your cell phone to request a taxi. The app will provide the license plate number of the taxi and a photo of the driver.
  1.  After calling a taxi or using a mobile app, have someone walk you to the door of the taxi, and note the plate number of that taxi.  If you do not have someone to walk with you, clearly call or text someone with this information.

This is less for sharing information.  It’s more for making the driver aware that someone knows which taxi you took. And that someone will follow up if you don’t arrive as expected.

My Colombian wife makes me send text messages with the license plate numbers of taxis I take.  This is whether I catch a taxi on the street, call for a taxi or request one via a mobile app.

White airport taxis
White airport taxis

White Airport Taxis

Besides yellow taxis in Medellín you will also find white airport taxis at the José María Córdova international airport.

There are at least four companies providing white airport taxi services: Rápido Medellín Rionegro, Flota Córdova, Transportes Unidos La Ceja and Aerotaxi.

Each of these airport taxi companies charge an official fixed fare from the airport to Medellín.  This fare recently increased from 60,000 pesos to 65,000 pesos.  This fare price includes the toll charge on the road – you don’t have to pay the toll, the taxi driver does.

The white airport taxis charge a discounted fare of 55,000 pesos in the other direction from Medellín to the airport.

Taxi fares in white taxis to/from the airport from other municipalities in the Aburrá Valley like Envigado and Sabaneta will be higher. For example the fare from the airport to Sabaneta is 75,000 pesos and from Sabaneta to the airport is 65,000 pesos.

Taxi drivers in white airport taxis may try to charge a higher “gringo” fare if you are an obvious tourist. While the fares are not posted in the white taxis, the fare is fixed and there is no evening surcharge.

You should not pay higher than the established rate. I have experienced white taxi drivers trying to charge me higher fares a few times but I respond I have lived in Medellín for over six years and know the official fare.

Problems to Watch Out For

Compared to Cartagena where many taxi drivers will try to charge “gringo” fares, the majority of taxi drivers in Medellin are honest, friendly and trustworthy.

However there are a few ways that a taxi driver in Medellín may try to make some extra money if you are a foreigner.

  1. They’ll take a longer route than necessary to run up the meter. If you’re not familiar with the city, it’s unlikely you’ll notice.
  1. They’ll ask for more money than appears on the meter (some drivers may claim the difference is an evening surcharge). You should only pay what is on the meter and there is no evening surcharge.  There is also no expectation for tipping.
  1. Before you can give them money and ask for change, they’ll state the amount due, rounding up to the nearest 1,000-peso from whatever shows on the meter. For example, if the meter shows 5,300 COP, the driver will ask for 6,000 COP, with no intention of giving you change. Sometimes I round up anyway, especially if the driver is friendly.
  1. The driver will claim not to have change for the bill you give him. If this happens, it’s his responsibility to find a shop or gas station where you can get change for your bill.

You should always carry small bills when taking taxis and it’s worth having some coins as well.

Local Tips

The cumulative effect of taxi doors being opened and closed regularly for months and years can slowly start to cause mechanical problems.

Colombian taxis are much smaller than most of the sedans and SUVs used in US and European cities.  So they don’t stand up to being slammed shut very well. If you open the door on an old taxi, sometimes it even feels like it will fall off in your hand!

If you do not want the taxi drivers to give you a dirty look or yell at you, be extra careful when closing the car door. If a door is already damaged, the driver may even prefer to close the door himself.

It is also recommended that you lock the taxi doors, particularly in a busy area like El Centro. Some drivers will do this anyway after you enter the taxi.

An alternative to taxis is Uber, which I have used only a few times, as it typically takes too long for an Uber car to come to Sabaneta where I live. Taxis typically arrive in only a few minutes.

Medellín Taxi Guide Bottom Line

Taxis are inexpensive in Medellín and safe in my experience. I typically average a taxi fare of only about 7,000 pesos ($2.41) per trip.

With the cheap taxis in medellín as well as the inexpensive metro and buses in the city, it’s very possible to live in the city without a car. I have lived over six years in the city without a car and haven’t encountered the need to rent one.

The majority of taxi drivers will be open to talking with you, especially if you’re a foreigner.  Many will even start the conversation by asking where you’re from.

These conversations can be a great way to practice your Spanish, while also learning about the city and local culture.

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LEAVE A REPLY

10 COMMENTS

  1. And… Remember to be nice to them, they work really hard.

    As said in the article, most are honest. If the driver does go around and around do not assume that he is cheating, he may indeed lost. In this case I try to help with google maps.

    Before getting on the taxi – smell it. If it stinks from cigarettes do not get in. I also let them know why I don’t get in.

    A safety belt is usually hard or impossible to use in the back seat. When possible I then prefer to sit in front, chatting Espanglish with the driver about music.

    Thanks for this important and accurate post!

    Amir

  2. Great info but I’ve never had a taxi drive round up the fare to the upper thousand. Actually, they have many times rounded down.
    One more advice would be to take a photo of the door that has the sticker with the license plate, right before you get on. That will definitely make the taxi driver aware, that you’re in alert mode.

    • Thanks, good advice about taking a photo of the door with the placa number.

      I have experienced only a couple times in six years taxi drivers rounding down the fare and many more times I have experienced rounding the fare up to the nearest 1,000 pesos.

  3. Great info – thanks for posting. One thing, at the Rio Negro airport there is now a sign posted with the prices (unless they took it down in the last few weeks).

  4. Thanks for writing this Amir: “And… Remember to be nice to them, they work really hard.” That’s very considerate. Being a taxi driver in Medellin is hard work, and drivers don’t earn much. After the cost of the vehicle and licenses, fuel, tires, maintenance, insurance, and other costs, Medellin taxi drivers work hard, pay a lot in expenses, and don’t earn a lot of net income for their hard work.”

    I’ve lived in Medellin for about 8 months, and I’ve encountered only a few drivers who were jerks, but the vast majority are conscientious and just want to get you where you want to go. I like to practice my Spanish with them too, and a lot of them like to have the opportunity to practice their English.

    • This is so true John. What really makes me feel for them is that they have to inhale the city pollution for 10 hours a day. When I go to the city center for an hour or two, I literally chunk… So, to add to all that hard work, many of them are or will suffer from breathing problems or may be victims to harsher diseases. And still most of them are keeping being Paisa-happy 🙂

      Viva Paisa-Pues!

  5. If you need an English speaking taxi driver in Medellin you can call:

    Oscar at +57-300-717-2480

    He offers hourly and daily rates and knows all area of Medellin very well.

  6. There are days i would wish they would use air-conditioning as is the case in Barranquilla. Four in a small cab caught in Medellin traffic on a hot day not so much fun. Been here one year and only had one taxi put on the A/C.

  7. Just now leaving Medellin after a great week. The country was great except for yellow taxis. Both times, no meter. One stopped at gas station and asked me for gas money. The other gave me ride from Rionegro apartment to airport, 12 min, $25000 pesos. This is why uber is popular. All my uber rides in Medellin were excellent.