Oh, the infamous white taxis of Malta …
There probably isn’t a single person who has lived on this rock for over a few years and doesn’t have a story to share that involves the white taxis. Needless to say, these stories are usually quite negative in nature.
My ‘Malta White Taxi’ Story
I admit – the title of this article may have been a bit too much of a ‘click-bait‘. Did a white taxi driver hold a knife against my throat? Not quite. But he sure did put me in grave danger, which sadly is very common.
My story begins in Paceville, like many of them do. I was being a responsible citizen and decided to hitch a taxi home, rather than driving. Unfortunately, though, my first preference eCabs gave me a 45-minute waiting time, and wanting to get home sooner, I opted to give the white taxis a(nother) chance.
So there I was – in front of the Bay Street Complex – looking for my new master for the next 20 minutes. I’ve already learned long ago that all taximeters installed in Malta collectively “break” on every Friday at 5pm, and remain broken until Sunday afternoon. So there I was, negotiating a fixed price.
“At first, I thought my driver had some car troubles or had run out of petrol”
5 minutes in, I managed to talk the price from Paceville to Mosta down from the original 45 Euros to 30 Euros, which is “only” €17 more expensive than eCabs. But keen to get home, I didn’t really care too much and off we went.
The Ride From Hell and a Surprise Passenger
This is where the “life-threatening” part begins. And again, my apologies to all the action hunters who wanted to read about a driver pulling a gun on me – didn’t happen.
What did happen was reckless driving like I’ve rarely seen before. Not only did the driver nearly run over an (admittedly, drunken) guy on his way speeding out of Paceville, but the moment we reached the Regional Road, his speedometer stopped showing two-digit numbers.
Now those of you who know me are well aware that I’m not the calmest driver myself. I do deem some of the speed limits here significantly too low. But even my manic tendencies certainly don’t involve going 135km/h on the Regional Road, or worse – 130km/h on Triq Dun Karm – a road that has roundabouts once every few hundred meters and has the speed limit of 60km/h.
Having politely suggested the driver to take it easy (in honesty – brick walls have been more responsive to my suggestions!), I fastened my seatbelt and held on. Until we stopped.
“You said me this exit. Now I waste 5 minutes. This 5 more Euro”, he yells back in his broken English.
At first, I thought my driver had some car troubles or had run out of petrol, but as it turned out – we stopped to have a little chat with someone who was hailing a cab on the side of the road. And having learned that this someone goes in the same general direction as I did, on he jumped. For another 30 euros of pocket money for the driver!
And there was me thinking this kind of stuff only happens in places like Egypt or Greece – where the culture is, well, a bit “different”.
Take the Second Exit – No – The Other Second Exit
Speeding along with my driver up front and my new (forced) friend next to me on the backseat, we reached the edge of Mosta, where I live. This is where the compulsory “where do I go from here” part starts – with me explaining which turns to take, and the driver trying to comply to the best of his abilities.
For the sake of clarity I have to add that as an old habit of sorts, I do always give my taxi drivers the exact address when jumping in. Is it ever of any use? Nope! 🙂
Luckily, I was neither completely hammered nor lost, so being quite confident in my navigation skills, I was happy to oblige.
“Nik had his nose broken, several front teeth gone, a number of serious wounds and a black eye”
“Take the second exit off the oncoming roundabout”, I said.
“…!…h98@jfls..”, he responded.
… only to proceed to the roundabout and – take the third exit.
“You took the wrong exit boss”, I said.
“You said me this exit. Now I waste 5 minutes. This 5 more Euro”, he yells back in his broken English.
I argued a little bit, trying to explain that going to the next roundabout 100 meters away and turning around most certainly didn’t take anywhere near 5 minutes – and even if it did, it was him who screwed up (so perhaps he should apply a discount to the bill instead, for wasting MY time? — didn’t tell him that), but the level of response was once again comparable to one you’d expect to receive from a dish of vegetarian lasagne.
The Sweet Farewell
I won’t bore you with the details of my driver getting lost once more (as “just drive to the Mosta rotunda” is clearly a task too difficult to follow), but we finally arrived.
If I had 30 Euros of exact change in my pocket then the story would’ve probably ended here, but I didn’t. Instead, I gave the driver a 50-Euro bill and, sure enough, received €15 of change.
Having gotten rather agitated (but not for one second impolite or rude), I figured I most certainly won’t leave it like this. So we proceeded into what was a good 5-minute discussion that of course led nowhere.
At the end, I only managed to “win” by threatening to call the police, at which point the driver mumbled something and (literally!) threw a 5-Euro bill at me on the backseat.
And mind you – all this while our other passenger was still in the car, witnessing all of it.
Others Haven’t Been As Lucky
My story may have been agitating or disturbing, but at least I was never at risk of physical violence. This can’t be said for some others, unfortunately.
This photo is of a friend of a friend, who was allegedly “savagely beaten” (sic) by the driver of a white taxi last autumn in Paceville.
Nik had his nose broken, several front teeth gone, a number of serious wounds and a black eye – injuries that could’ve easily led to permanent disability or death.
There are several “stories” circling around about the reasons for this, but at the end of the day, none of it matters. Unless their life is put in immediate danger, no person should ever deliver a beating like this. And this is especially true if that person is running a public transportation vehicle.
One only needs to Google for about a minute to find a number of stories and reports similar to this one, so it’s certainly not an isolated event.
My honest recommendation to those needing to use taxis in Malta is to use a reputable taxi company like eCabs or Yellow Cabs and avoid white taxis like the plague. You’ll get better service, better prices, and often better cars, so there’s really no reason not to.
Got your own Malta white taxi story to share? Shoot through a comment below!
Another (much safer & eco-friendly) option in malta is http://www.greenr.cab. They use zero emission cars, and have prices similar to eCabs.
Thanks for the recommendation, Amanda! I’ll try them out some time soon. Never heard of them to be honest, but seems like a very good concept!
White cabs in Malta are an absolute disgrace. However in 6 years on the island I’ve never seen a taxi with a meter, all the companies use fixed pricing. Would be interested to know which use meters and compare prices.
White taxis ALL have meters – how often they use them is a whole different topic however. Knowing the mentality of many of those drivers I wouldn’t be surprised if many of these meters are also tampered with – like is happening in pretty much all “developing” nations around the world.
On the flip side, no other taxi has a meter, as it’s forbidden by the law (as is picking up a customer without a pre-order). Hence why companies like eCabs, Yellow Cabs and others always have price lists instead, and mostly work with pre-ordering.
Taxis in Malta are a Rip off esp.given the low wages & price of petrol. I flew to Madrid for 20 Euros taxi fare to airport 25. Why don’t they use the meters?.
I’m actually not that worried about the prices, as one needs to bear in mind that distances here are extremely small, so whilst in Madrid a taxi driver will easily have several 20+ kilometre rides a day, here it rarely happens.
This obviously applies to the actual prices, though, rather than the ripoff prices that you’d often encounter leaving the party areas or bigger festivals / events.
In near future we can all use Taxify and it will protect us from getting these kind of drivers.
I also had a similar incidence with a white cab driver requesting 5 euros for a distance 100 meters off the “general location” I gave to him initially. But this also happened when I was in Esthonia by a rude fat driver that refused to speak any other language than Esthonian. instead of request additional money he went round and round until we got in the right place. On the other hand when I was in Greece I didn’t have a complain with the taxi drivers and i used taxis a lot. I remember a taxi had even wifi and beverages! so I strongly disagree with you comparing Greece with Egypt. It seems that some drivers simply shouldnt do this job.
Thanks for the comment!
The ‘taxi mafia’ in Estonia (no ‘h’) is a whole different bag of burritos – one that deserves another article, if not a book 🙂 Luckily though, there are now companies/apps like Uber and Taxify that are on the course of putting the issues of rude drivers and overcharging to bed once and for all.
As for Greece – I only have experiences from one visit to Athens to rely on, so not a whole lot of data, but it could perhaps be that since the recession and the introduction of capital controls a year or so ago, people (and amongst them, taxi drivers) have gotten more greedy / started finding ways to make an extra euro where-ever they can. Or I might’ve just gotten unlucky.
On the contrary, generally prices due to capital controls are lower than ever. The taxis have taximeters that are regulary checked and sealed. There might be fraudsters but it didnt happend to me
[…] Whichever transport option you choose to rely on, keep in mind that taxis in Malta, while sometimes convenient, are never cheap. Even getting to the airport is doable by bus, unless you’ve got a 6 am flight. Still, if you find yourself in a situation where a taxi becomes necessary, do yourself a favor and call an eCab, GreenrCab, or one of the other reputable taxi services on the island. The white taxis are likely only to gouge you for everything in your wallet. (Related: How A Malta White Taxi Driver Ripped Me Off, Nearly Killing Me) […]
Ecabs are your best option. They also have an online calculator to check the fairs.
Report who don’t have any basic education but don’t generalized on all most of them are quite nice people thanks
Don’t compare Maltesse drivers with greeks or egyptians 🙂 I am Turkish and I was thinking our drivers are crap but maltesse drivers are so aggressive and bad..
We got a white cab from Sliema to Valletta, only when in car did he tell us fare was €30. Our fault for not clarifying fare before hand but honestly didn’t expect to be so blatantly robbed. I wish my mother had taught me Maltese as well known the Maltese rip off foreigners.
Don’t get in taxi 149 the driver needs to take a driving test that he would not pass.
He is dangerous, his car is a health hazard and was running on tyres worn down to the wire when he picked us up, shocking!!!
I am Maltese myself, and I live abroad but the Taxi drivers in Malta are the biggest rip off merchants ever , avoid them at all cost. They embarrass us all, and I apologise about what the tourist and customers have to go trough. If you need a taxi get an ECAB, they are by far the best. On the website you can book it, time, day, destination etc at a fair price, or you can ring them on tell number; 21383838. Good luck and happy holidays.
Just had my own experience with a white taxi cab driver where he actually honked at my 75 year old grandma as we were crossing. He proceeded to swear at me. I was so disappointed because we have heard so much about Malta and was excited to see all the beautiful areas, but this experience has tarnished the image.
you may want to look into COOL ride sharing it is an app based taxi / ride share like uber in the uk.
safe, regulurised, sanatised and vehicle has security cameras onboard incase of an accident.
We had a similar experience a many years ago but it didn’t escalate as much thankfully. We avoided white taxis ever since and always used any.cab for our airport transfers. A friend suggested this company and we were never disappointed. It will take more than a mad taxi driver to stop us from visiting the island every year.