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Taxi Tip

March 13, 1994

Your readers should be warned about "radio" taxi cabs at night in Paris.

A radio cab starts its meter from wherever it happens to be when it receives the call. This is legal and your only recourse is to refuse to take the cab.

If your hotel has called the cab for you, ask the doorman or someone from the desk to check the meter reading before you get in. Even a regular cab may have 10 or 12 francs on the meter. That is acceptable because cabs in any large city have a small surcharge at night.

Our hotel called a cab for a short trip to the Folies-Bergere. We got in without checking the meter. Then, two blocks from the hotel, we realized that the meter read something like $18. The fare, when we arrived at our destination, was almost $30.

We hailed a regular cab on the street and the fare back to the hotel was less than one third of what we had paid the radio cab.

RUSSELL L. JACOBS

Los Angeles

George Hern Jr., public relations director for the French Government Tourist Office in New York City, replies: "The standard rule of radio taxis in Paris and elsewhere in the world is that the meter is set at the time and place of the call . We agree that travelers should be aware of this. As you suggested, it may be wiser to hail a cab or go to the nearest taxi stand. The night surcharge is , in fact , the initial charge and is currently 12 francs. There is, however, a 'night rate ' per kilometer from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., as well as for Sundays and public holidays, which is 5.10 francs, instead of the 3.23-franc day rate. These rates also apply to radio taxis."

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