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Help! I don't speak Spanish and I need to call a cab!

Free taxi

No problema, señor. Radiotaxi has an automated service which will get a taxi to you in just THREE minutes and you don’t even have to speak with anyone. Sometimes Montevideo is just so DARN civilized.

So what do I do?

  1. Dial 141.
  2. An automated voice starts, press 1.
  3. The system will look for the nearest taxi.
  4. Then you will be told “El movil numero xxx estará en 3 minutos”. That is: “Car number xxx will be with you in 3 minutes”. It is never more nor less.
  5. Put the phone down and go outside to wait for your cab. The taxi will arrive with zero pesos on the clock.

If you do speak Spanish and would like to speak to a human being, the other big taxi company does not use an automated system. You can call them on 1771.

Taxis are safe, cheap and plentiful

Feel free to flag taxis in the street anywhere in Uruguay. The worst thing that can happen is that a taxi driver realises you are from out of town and “te pasea”, he takes you the long way around. But most are solid gold.

How much do taxis cost?

Today at the time of writing rough estimates are:

  • The port to Centro – roughly 80 pesos (apx 4 USD)
  • Ciudad Vieja to Tres Cruces bus station or Punta Carretas – roughly 150 pesos (apx 7 USD)
  • Ciudad Vieja to Bouza Vineyard (13.5 km) – roughly 360 pesos (apx 16 USD)

Meters – what shows up is NOT what you pay

All taxis in Montevideo charge according to the count (called “fichas”) on a meter. The ficha count is not the same as the price. At the end of your trip, the driver will consult a laminated chart hanging in the cab and look up the number of fichas. There will be a corresponding amount in pesos – that is the cost of your ride. There is one chart for travel during the daytime and a table for nighttime and public holidays on the back.

Times when it may be hard to get a taxi

In the interior, the easiest place to catch a cab is likely to be at the local bus station.

In Montevideo, it’s usually easy to get hold of a taxi except for changes of shifts (around 4pm in the afternoon) and on rainy days. But be persistent with 141. Eventually they will pick up.

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