Negotiating your taxi fare in Israel.
A typical conversation with a taxi driver with Hebrew transliterations.
As of 24.6.2019 the base taxi fare has increased to 12.40 NIS - a 40 agorot increase. It's one thing to know the base rate but there are extras; 5.20 NIS for a telephone order, 4.40 NIS for a suitcase, 5 NIS for more than 2 passengers, (click here for the full taxi fare calculator and list of extra charges). Whether you are taking a taxi from Ben Gurion airport, in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa, or any other city in Israel, the base rate is the same (12.40). If you prefer not to opt for the metered rate and negotiate a flat rate for the journey, it is imperative to know how to negotiate your taxi fare in Israel.
We've put together a typical conversation. Familiarize yourselves with it and it can save you from a frustrating situation.
Legend: * = the taxi driver / - = the passenger
*Le'an ata ro'tzeh linso'a - Where do you want to go to?
-Ani ro'tzeh le'ha'giya le rechov Herzl - I want to go to Herzl St.
-Ka'ma ze oleh - How much does it cost?
*Shlo'shim ve'ha'mesh shach - 35 shekels ("shach" being the abbreviated form of shekel hadash - The New Israeli Shekel)
-Ma? Shlo'shim ve'ha'mesh shach! Bederech klal ani meshalem rak 25 - What? So much! I usually pay 25
*Be'seder, be'seder. Az 30 shach - Okay, okay, 30 shekels!
Whatever you do, prior to the negotiation, do not let on that you do not know where you are or that you are new in town. The taxi driver will use this information to his financial advantage.
Now your taxi driver (nehag) may be a shrewd businessman. Once you are in the taxi, he may say:
*Ani ya'chol le asof et ha achyan sheli be'derech - Do you mind if I pick up my "nephew" along the way?
*Ani hiftachti Ie'asot lo tovah, ve lakachat oto le kenyon, she be'derech. I promised to do him a favor and drop him at the shopping center that is en route.
You can be sure that there is no nephew and no favor. This can be the taxi drivers' way of getting an additional fare for the same trip. Naturally you have every right to refuse.
He might also say, when he drops you at your destination
*Ani mekaveh she yaish lecha kesef katan - I hope you have the right amount of money
*Ki ain li odef - As I do not have any change
He may suggest making a detour via the nearest shop to arrange some change.
*Ani yachol le asot sivuv le makolet lakachat odef
Put your foot down, this is not your problem, he must come up with the change. Suggest he drop you off at your destination (let's say your house), without paying him obviously, and you will wait a few minutes for him to arrange the change somehow and then he can bring it to you. This is what you'd say...
-Ta'atzor li leyad habayit sheli, ve ani echakeh lecha kamma dakot, ad she ata mavi li et ha'odef.
Wait and see if he miraculously can come up with the money!
You may however encounter an honest taxi driver and he may come right out and ask if he can pick up another fare along the way. If the taxi driver does not agree to give you a reduced fare, you should refuse.
To be fair (no pun intended), taxi drivers all around the world are known to be chancers.
- Ani rotzeh et haheshbonit mas bevakasha - Please can you give me the the tax invoice?
- Todah! Yom na'im - Thanks! Have a pleasant day.
Note: if you are using an app like Gett, a metered rate is the only option (plus the surcharge)