When we first arrived in Brasov, we had arranged for a large van to pick us up since we had just moved across the world the day before. It was very hard on our big dog and we wanted to make everything as comfortable as we could for her. We didn’t know it at the time, but that turned out to be a wise choice for more reasons than just comfort. Cabs are quite abundant and convenient, but not many have room for a large dog. Also, arriving at the train station has its own set of issues with regards to cabs.
The cab drivers at the train station are a lot different than the ones we’ve encountered elsewhere in the city. When you first step out of the train station there is a cab stand off to your right. The majority of drivers seem to be looking for tourists. They aren’t in their cabs, but on the sidewalk yelling over to you. My personal advice is to avoid these drivers. For one thing, their behavior is off-putting to me. The second thing is that they’re often trying to scam you. That’s why they hang out there and try and grab you right out of the station before you get your bearings. I’ve heard stories that they will try to tell you it’s a flat rate to the city center. It’s not. Insist they start the meter. If they won’t, then get out and find another because there’s no shortage.
Fortunately, we had a friend teach me about the cabs when we arrived in Brasov. There were lots of little things that we weren’t paying attention to because we were a bit mesmerized with the beauty of the city. The first thing we learned was to read the rates on the door before getting in. There are a few companies here that have much higher rates than the others. You can usually tell by watching the taxi stand for a minute and you’ll see others going to the second or third cab in the row that’s waiting. The difference per kilometer might not seem that much if you’re mentally converting it to your home currency. The truth is that it all adds up.
The next thing we learned is to sit where there’s a good view of the meter. A lot of cabs don’t have a great angle for the customer to read the meter. I usually sit up front with the driver and get a little better view than I would have from the back. If I don’t see them hit the button, then I read where it says it’s occupied and I don’t have to worry any more. After a few minutes, you’ll see the cost adding up as you travel. Then you can relax and take in the sights.
The best way to avoid having to worry at all is to use an app. I tried a couple of the local company’s apps and didn’t find them that easy to use. Then I found the Clever taxi app. It is a great app. It works in more than twenty cities in Romania. You get to choose your company and driver. You can pay with a card through the app even though I’ve never used this option. It’s very convenient and I usually have a cab at my door within five minutes.
We have used nearly every taxi company in the city by now. There’s really no difference from one company to the next. Most are kept fairly clean, even in the winter. You may develop a personal preference if you’re here for a while. We try to avoid TOD taxi because we have had two of their drivers try to rip us off, but that could happen with any company.
If you spend any significant amount of time in Romania, some cab driver will try to make up a price. First you should know approximately how much your trip should cost to know if you’re being scammed or not. If you aren’t aware of the cost, then you’re really not in a position to argue. So what should you do if your driver tries to overcharge? Insist upon being given a receipt. If you’re handing them money, then they are obligated to give you a receipt. This will likely make them reassess their position on the price. If that doesn’t work or they give you some excuse, then take pictures of their license, the meter, the pricing on the door, and the cab company and number. Beware– this will piss off the driver. Scammers don’t like being photographed. Then you can call the company and tell them what their driver is doing. I don’t know if that will get you your money back, but it might be worth a shot. You can also decide it’s not worth the fight and consider it a cost of being here, which is what I did when I got scammed.
English is a crap shoot with the drivers. You could get a driver that speaks great English, or none at all. Sometimes they’ll say they don’t speak English, but then you find out on the trip that they do. They aren’t really used to hearing foreigners try to speak Romanian, so often times there are struggles. They’ll just say okay and then they head in the general direction, then call a friend to ask where you’re going.
Knowing the best way to get there is important. Whether you take a cab, a city bus, an uber, etc. you should know your route before heading out. Don’t worry about scammers, but be ready for them. Take a few steps to put yourself in the best position in case it happens. Don’t expect English, but you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.