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