Quito Taxi Saftey TIps
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Dec 1, 2012 6:03 AM Last Post By: ReptilianKitten...
Nov 28, 2012 4:51 PM
Quito Taxi Saftey TIpsThese are things I have learned while living 11 months in Quito. Some of these are obvious, but many of them are things that I didn’t know before arriving.
At a hotel or other place of business:
If you are at a hotel particularly in the tourist areas, have the reception call you a taxi. If you have a cell phone, ask the reception for the number of their reliable taxi service to call when you are ready to come back to the hotel.
On the street:
Never take an “informal” taxi. These are the taxis that look like regular cars and may have a hand-written sign in the window that says ‘taxi’.
Registered taxis have two things: an ORANGE license plate on the front and back, and a large registration sticker with numbers on the windshield. Particularly in the Mariscal, you will see yellow taxis sometimes without any license plates at all, and frequently without registration numbers.
In the taxi:
Don’t sit in the front next to the driver because he can hold a gun to you and drive at the same time.
Make note of the registration number. If your phone has a camera, make a point to take a photo of the taxista and text the registration number to a friend. Or, if you don’t know anyone, you can fake a call telling your “friend” that you are on your way and say aloud the taxi registration number.
Always lock the doors so robbers cannot jump into the taxi when it is stopped at a light or in traffic.
If the taxista is acting suspiciously or is going the wrong way, GET OUT of the taxi as soon as possible. Run to the police or to a restaurant or open business with people in it. It’s better safe than sorry.
WHY DID I WRITE THIS?
I have been living in Quito for 11 months. I have only left a taxi once. In that instance, I think he was just trying to overcharge me more than anything worse, but he was going generally in the wrong direction to a place I knew very well and refused to drive the streets which I indicated.
Other people I personally know have not been that lucky. I am not really a fan of the Quito horror stories, but I think that these are worth sharing just for an example of why to take care.
Earlier this week my Italian-Ecuadorian (raised in Ecuador) boyfriend was leaving the building of his work near the Swisshotel on 12 de Octubre and Colon. It was about 9pm, and had called a couple of taxi cooperatives, but they told him he would have to wait a while until one was available. So, he went to the street and waived down a taxi. He told me that he didn’t look to see if it was registered or not. Anyway, he got in and told the driver the address of his apartment. The taxista started driving, and after a moment, the driver’s phone rang. The driver told the caller where he was, which wasn’t unusual, but then started speaking in some a code which seemed strange. Then the driver started asking my boyfriend questions about if he was a foreigner and where he was living etc. Starting to feel uneasy, my boyfriend looked behind and saw two yellow taxis with people in them following directly behind with their headlights off and without license plates or registration stickers. The driver then turned off onto a street that was in the opposite direction of the apartment and the two other vehicles following closely. My boyfriend told the driver to stop and tried to open the door. The driver didn’t say anything, but instead accelerated the vehicle. Luckily, they got to a intersection with traffic and a red light. The taxi was forced to stop, and my boyfriend jumped out and ran into the open McDonalds feeling extremely scared.
Thank God he did that. Several months back, a young American woman I know got into a taxi near the Swissotel (close to the same place where my boyfriend got the taxi) and was not so lucky. It was night, and the driver took her to an empty walled in parking lot. They stopped, and other men showed up and entered the taxi. They told her not to scream or they would shoot her. They then took her purse and found her credit and ATM cards, and demanded her pin number. She was scared so she gave it to them. Two guys blindfolded her and stayed in the taxi with her and they then drove her to another part of town and pushed her out of the car. From what I’ve heard, usually they send someone to try the ATM while they still have you captive to make sure the number is right and then they call your kidnappers to either beat you up or let you go.
It seems to me that groups like this target foreigners because they are frequently unfamiliar with the city. The Swissotel is a place where foreign business people frequent. However, I have heard some similar horror stories from the Mariscal from popular clubs like Bungalow (to counter the problem, the owner of Bungalow told me that they now have cameras installed and have given permission to particular taxis to park outside the door, which is enforced by a security guard they have hired. )
Quito taxis are for the most part safe, but PLEASE don’t be careless.
Nov 28, 2012 8:16 PM
Nov 29, 2012 2:07 AM
Nov 29, 2012 6:59 AM
3Thank you for writing this synopsis as questions about taxis are frequent!
As with any big city, it is certainly important to be aware of your surroundings and belongings and keep in mind that common sense goes a long way! You certainly don't want to stress yourself out so much that you miss out on the incredible history, landscapes and culture around you so just be careful and patient...wait for that registered cab even if it takes an extra 15mins or so and ENJOY yourself!
Again, well written summary of some important safety tips for travelers! Thanks!
Dec 1, 2012 6:03 AM
4Its good to take a registered taxi anywhere in Latin America, this is not a uniquely Ecudorian problem. That being said I found most taxi drivers in Quito to be firendly and helpful.
You should keep your ATM and Visa cards locked up unless you need to use them. When I was in Quito I would go to the ATM during the day only, use ones that had a guard and go directly back to the hostal after. Maybe a bit of overkill but if I was a ladron I'd be waiting to nail people as they left the ATM.
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