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When I came off the ferry in Barcelona (Catalonia), I tried and failed to get a taxi. There were twelve numbers posted on a sheet of paper, they were all either busy, or not working, or I was put on hold. Since my phone provider used to charge €1.49/minute for calls to other EU countries (this was lowered to €0.22/minute weeks before I travelled, but I was not aware) I did not want to wait on a hold for too long. We ended up walking 2 km with big suitcases to the nearest public transportation (and harbour areas at night are rarely the nicest places to be), along with another group of people in the same situation.

For hotels, car rentals, flights, and buses, there are various websites (and I suppose smartphone apps) for a meta-search of different competing alternatives. None are complete, but most are useful. Is there any such service for licensed taxis?

I prefer an option with widespread geographical coverage, but if that is not available, options that work for specific countries or cities are also valuable. Ideally, I'd just let my presence known through a smartphone application, and then whichever taxi company claims me first would come to fetch me.

As a matter of principle, I will not consider any unlicensed, unmetered, or illegal taxi operator such as one is very likely to get with such services as Uber.

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  • I would even love such a service at home, where the taxi companies cover huge areas but do not react well when you call them for a short ride.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 9:57

3 Answers 3

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I think you've kind of answered your own question here:

Ideally, I'd just let my presence known through a smartphone application, and then whichever taxi company claims me first would come to fetch me.

This is pretty much exactly what Uber, Bolt etc do, only instead of a "taxi company", you get a notionally independent "driver-partner" to claim you. Now I know you stated that you will not consider "any unlicensed, unmetered, or illegal taxi operator such as one is very likely to get with such services as Uber", but the regulatory situation in Europe (and the rest of the world) has changed since the early wildcat days and ride share operators are very much licensed and regulated these days, often including employment-type protections for their drivers. In Spain, specifically, all Uber drivers have been licensed since 2016.

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    Maybe some places have legalised them, but they're still undermining the normal taxi business model. I know how I could find a "taxi" via Uber or similar services, but that was not the question.
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 25, 2021 at 20:03
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    @gerrit I'm genuinely curious now: as a traveler, what advantage did you find taxis to have over Uber? In my own experience they're worse on every metric (reliability, availability, navigation, service, odds of getting cheated, etc). Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 6:45
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    Not applicable; due what I've read about their business model, I have never tried Uber and never will. I do not care about the price or service quality of Uber. The so-called "gig economy" is a reversal to 19th century labour conditions and a century of social progress.
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 11:00
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    @gerrit many cities have “traditional” taxis integrated into Uber, i.e. I see them as an option in Seattle. Uber will take a cut of course but you’ll be driven by a “traditional” company.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 11:03
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    @SaaruLindestøkke if you order a "traditional" taxi via the Uber app, the driver should have the same salary/contract/benefits model as any other taxi employee. You can clearly see which type of taxi you order in the app.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 21:40
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Meta-search engine for licensed taxis.

One can use taxicaller, which claims to support over 70 countries.

With that being said, those "traditional" licensed taxi networks are typically very limited in coverage, overpriced, messy, inconvenient, technologically subpar, and sometimes dangerous, which is why ridesharing companies have rapidly taken over in pretty much all countries: in most reasonably developed places, Bolt/Didi/Grab/Lyft/Uber are available. Your choice.

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+100

No such meta search exists that’s focused on taxis but you can do an equivalent search in App/Play Store. For example “taxi Barcelona iOS” yields a link to an app called Free Now that does what you want as they’re only partnered with local traditional taxi companies. From personal experience I can say the app was horrible as of 2019 (compared to Uber/Lyft) but perhaps they’ve improved since then. In Czech Republic an equivalent service is called Liftago and is likewise easy to find in app stores.

The only real “meta search” is Uber/Lyft but since you’ve explicitly excluded them, App stores are your best shot.

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