Even with recent price increases, taxi fares in Mexico City are inexpensive by comparison to some other capital cities around the world. Taxi meters have different bands, depending on the type of taxi and what time of day you are traveling.
Meters on street cabs in the capital begin with a standing charge, known as a “banderazo“, and then charge an incremental fee per 250 meters (274 yards) traveled, or per 45 second waiting time when the vehicle is stationary. Meters on taxi rank cabs and taxi co-operatives begin with a higher banderazo, and higher incremental fees per distance traveled and/or time waiting.
The most expensive cabs in Mexico are the ones you hire from the airport, as well as private cabs directly affiliated to hotels. They charge a set rate per kilometer (or zone) and the rate varies widely. It’s best to agree your price or inquire about the rate per kilometer beforehand when you hire a private taxi.
Frequent visitors to Mexico City, especially business travelers, are beginning to ask cabbies from taxi ranks for a ‘daily’ or ‘hourly’ rate: so that on days when they have to do a lot of moving around through the city, they have a car and driver on hand. You will need to speak good Spanish and know the capital in order to negotiate this type of arrangement. However, the benefits are significant: you get a driver who will know the roads and it’s less expensive than getting a rental car for the day.
Outside of Mexico City, the taxi scene is much less formal, and the color and type of cabs roaming the streets varies enormously. Most of the taxis in the provinces operate on a government-regulated ‘zone’ system, whereby you pay a fare depending on the zone you travel to. It is generally regarded as safe to flag a street cab in Mexico’s provincial towns and cities, although you will need to be able to speak Spanish to negotiate your way around as most drivers speak little or no English. Some people who don’t speak Spanish take a map and point to where they want to go in the town or city.
You can get detailed information about the types of cabs in Mexico City as well as the provinces on our comprehensive Guide to Traveling by Taxi in Mexico. Additionally, our Mexico Taxi Fares page is updated annually and gives you a good estimated cost of taxi travel in Mexico.