Hello Budapest – Keleti train station racist taxis make it hard to love you.

Hello Budapest – Keleti train station racist taxis make it hard to love you.

Dear Budapest,

It was my pleasure to meet you for a couple days. We clearly had a lot to talk about since I had heard so much about you from all my friends. Travel bloggers, friends, travelers and random Joe Schmoes mentioned your great architecture, excellent wines, fabulous history and significantly above average nightlife combined with a very positive exchange rate for Canadians. The presence of your Jobbik party did create a bit of doubt in our first date because of the party’s platform and I can choose to work and spend my money in places that support my existence and don’t believe I’m some sub-standard entity.

I was completely pumped on my first foray with your public transportation system. Taking the bus and then your metro to get to the Marriott Budapest was simple and easy, located at the Deak Ferenc ter stop.

Finding the Visit Budapest office to get my welcome package from your tourism office was a breeze … and btw as a follow up to a post I wrote – the Budapest Card is super useful as an extension public transport card but without better discounts at the top attractions in the city, you’ll be hard pressed to get full value unless you LOVE museums (I’m not a huge museum person, so I didn’t find it a phenomenal value – but the public transport piece of was very useful). <insert pictures>

I was even more excited with Budapest when we had a brilliant sunset over the castle and I had a couple Vodka + Sodas to accentuate my appreciation of the view combined with an excellent lounge experience at the Marriott. Everything was blog and Instagram worthy.  

Then it happened, when I came back with friends of colour into the Keleti train station from Bratislava – we had a confirmation of our initial doubts with your train station taxi “coyotes”. It’s my understanding that this “taxi mafia” basically got Uber outlawed and shut down.

About the taxi’s – especially at the Keleti train station……many will rip off unsuspecting tourists – and it’s very well documented here in this forum if you care to search. While taxi fares have been set by the government, some taxi’s will prey upon tourists at Keleti, some never knowing it but paying 3x+ the price … from Tripadvisor

So here’s our taxi mafia interaction and I’d love to hear you explain these guys

  • Upon coming out of the station, we saw an older Indian couple looking for a taxi. There were two taxis in the stand, but the drivers gruffly explained that they were “busy” to them. They were “very busy” … but when some white Europeans were looking for a taxi, they got very “unbusy” … took those passengers.
  • I asked the couple what happened and it seemed that the taxi drivers quoted them some outlandish price and they didn’t want to get robbed. I can understand the desire to not get robbed.
  • So then myself (Big Brown Guy) and my ambiguously black Haitian friend also tried getting a taxi and once more they became busy. (Note here that there were two new taxis at this point – the previous two were too busy for everyone else but white Europeans).
  • Note that the Indian couple just simply gave up and walked away from the taxi stand after being ignored for so long.
  • Finally, I flat out tried to get into a car … and was told that he was done for the evening and his meter was broken … but his meter was good enough to come to the stand with and it was good enough to pick up other passengers with.
  • On top of this, we had an Arab friend also try to get a taxi with the same results. This is the license plate of the worst driver.

It’s quite hard to read the situation in a different way. However Budapest, it seems that this is a well known issue – other taxi drivers who don’t work at the train station know of this issue, the concierge at the hotel knew of the issue – it’s an open secret to everyone who is in hospitality in the city. Also coming back from the Szechenyi Baths … another taxi attempted a rip with a shady meter that was going twice the normal rate …

We were shocked by the price of the first two yellow cab fares that showed on the meters about 4000 for 5 minute trip. We asked locals who told us taxi drivers set meters differently for tourists, the only way to avoid is to ring taxi company and NEVER pick one up off street. Once we started doing that our average fare was 1000 for 10 minute rides. Taxis never took more than 5 minutes to arrive even in peak periods. Ring +36 1 266 6666, it’s the one we used once you is if once they know who you are so do not even ask your name. Make sure taxi driver who pulls up to collect you is the right one he will also know your name … from Tripadvisor

My opinion here is … If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. These types of drivers put a really poor initial image of the city upon coming in. I know it’s not representative of Budapest … but then again, who knows what the people are really thinking these days?



About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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