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WHISTLING A TAXI: Is it seen as rude or a welcomed custom in the industry?

Updated: May 8, 2023

We’ve all seen the films set in a busy London or New York where a pedestrian is desperately searching for a taxi. There’ll be the custom waving of hands in an attempt to attract attention, but there’ll also be something else... a loud piercing whistle.

But how does this transcend to real life? Will a whistle from the crowded streets instantly see a taxi spinning around to pick up the stricken passenger?

The whistle is still heavily used by hotel doorman to call up the next taxi when the rank is set back from the entrance. This act has been used for decades and even dates back to horse and carriage times.

In the taxi industry the whistle does however divide opinion. TaxiPoint asked its readers whether it was rude for a customer to whistle at them when trying to hail a taxi.

For one section of the cabbie community, they don’t really mind how they are hailed down. It’s a paying customer and some commented ‘you’re in the wrong job if this bothers you’. Others pointed out that it is a good way of getting your attention in crowded areas.

However, the main argument for cabbies that didn’t like the action was the link to a submissive command usually aimed at dogs.

Tony Barker said: “I just ignore them. I’m not a sheep dog.”

Other cabbies admit to just ‘driving past them’ and return retorts asking whether they have ‘lost their dog’.

What everyone can agree on though is that nothing can really beat a good strong and clear hail, simply using your hand whilst looking directly at the taxi driver.


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