This past weekend, we took a trip to visit some family in Wellington. We’re carless, just like we were in DC, so we needed a lift to Auckland Airport.
There are buses from our neighborhood to the airport that costs $16 per person. I’ve taken the bus before. It works well and runs often. But with Uber now serving a limited area of Auckland (including the area where we live), it was just as easy to take an Uber than it would to take the bus.
I ordered an Uber at 11 am on a Thursday to get to the airport, out of the city. It came within 10 minutes and cost $34 NZD (which was within the range of the fare quote the app provided).
On the way back, we took a taxi home from the airport at 5pm on a Monday and it cost $70 NZD. I almost choked when I asked Kiwi how much the cab was. $17? “No, $70.”
He wanted to take a taxi to see if the rates were as expensive as he remembered. They were.
How does Uber charge $34 to the airport and an Auckland Airport taxi charge $70 on the meter? It’s a 20-minute drive to and from our Balmoral neighborhood.
Kiwi has told me before: Aucklanders avoid cabs because they are expensive. According the the Auckland Airport’s website, to get a cab to the central business district (CBD) should cost between $75 to $90. According to the site, the fare starts with a base of $33 for the first passenger, then $8 for each additional passenger. It’s a 30-minute drive, no traffic.
In May 2014, New Zealand Herald found a range in fares amongst a number of companies, from $35 flat to $80 from the airport to the CBD.
Assuming all of these companies have to pay the same necessary airport and government fees, how is the $35-rate company (in this case, CheapCabs) operating differently than the $80-rate company? The Herald article has company and trade spokespeople with their views on that.
The lesson from all this: If you’re going to or from the airport and need to do it cheap, either take the $16 per person bus, or get a fare quote before getting in. This Taxi Auto Fare calculator provides the fare rate from a number of different companies, so you have an idea of what you’ll be paying.