Taxi rides refer to an ability in the Grand Theft Auto series to travel to parts of a city by riding a Taxi, as opposed to carjacking a vehicle. The feature is effectively a form of "teleportation", and it allows the player to reach nearly all destinations without the hassle of traveling on their own.
The feature is implemented in only a handful of games, including Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Grand Theft Auto IV, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and Grand Theft Auto V.
GTA Vice City — GTA Vice City Stories
The ability to ride taxis was first featured in a limited scale in GTA Vice City as merely a mean to repeat failed missions if the player is arrested or killed in one. After respawning at a hospital or police station, a marked taxi (usually a Kaufman Cab or Cabbie) is spawned in front, which can be ridden to the marker that activated the failed mission, allowing the player to replay the mission faster. This feature is implemented once in the mission Spilling The Beans where Tommy can chose to ride a Taxi to Mailbu Club at the beginning of the mission, at a cost of $9.
The feature is also present, with few changes, in GTA Liberty City Stories and GTA Vice City Stories (both of which inherit GTA Vice City's game mechanics).
GTA IV and its Episodes
Players could only begin riding taxis in GTA IV, where taxis can be hailed, entered, and ridden to nearly all destinations, all at a variable cost. The ability to take rides in taxis is not available at the beginning of the game, but must be unlocked by completing missions, after the mission Bull in a China Shop taxi rides are unlocked.
Hailing and entering the Taxi
- While on foot, the player can whistle for a cab by pressing the appropriate action button, and, provide the protagonist is not wanted by the police, take a seat in the back and be driven anywhere in the city for a fee. It should be noted that entry into a taxi as a passenger is only possible if the player holds the enter/exit vehicle button. Simply pressing the button will result in the protagonist carjacking the driver instead.
- If the player acts aggressively or receives a wanted level while riding in a taxi, the driver will stop the car and run away in fear.
- Taxis which already have passengers turn off their roof lights and will not stop when hailed, which may trigger an unsavoury comment from the protagonist. If the player manages to catch up to an occupied taxi, however, it can still be entered - the player will pull the passenger out of the back seat and hop in. Passengers do not retaliate, and there is no reaction from the driver. This is usually easier to execute when the taxi is either traveling at low speeds or is stationary (e.g. stopping near an intersection, or waiting for the protagonist to get out of the way).
- Upon entering a taxi, the player can use a terminal within the vehicle to direct the driver to various preset landmarks (safe-houses, mission starting locations, recreational facilities such as bowling alleys or the Helitours depot, etc) or to a way-point set by the player, and during some missions, the player can take a taxi to (stationary) mission markers.
- The taxi fare is determined by distance, and whether the player used the "trip-skip" option (where the journey is omitted entirely, the game resuming as the cab pulls up at its location, and the cost of the fare doubling).
- The player can also issue a "hurry" option, which results in the driver ignoring the laws of the road and driving to the destination as fast as possible.
- If the taxi driver exits the taxi first (e.g. taxi flips over), the taxi fare will be free.
- Niko can get free cab rides from Roman Bellic after the player has earned his respect (Roman will call to inform the player once the service is available). Selecting "Car Services" from Roman's address-book entry in the mobile phone will initiate a call to Roman, and he will dispatch one of his cabs to the player's location. In the beginning of the game, Roman's taxis are customized dark gray Esperantos (see Roman's Taxi), but as his fortunes rise, his company switches to using dark gray Cavalcades.
- There's a rare chance that a taxi will spawn with a female driver. However, she has no unique dialogue.
GTA Chinatown Wars
GTA Chinatown Wars retains GTA IV's taxi riding system, with several changes in place. Players can no longer enter any Cabbie at will, as they can only be entered after the player hails a taxi, triggering the taxi to stop and be marked by yellow chevrons pointing where the player should walk to to automatically enter a taxi as a passenger.
After entering a Cabbie, the player, as in GTA IV, can pick nearly any location in Liberty City to go, as are the usual gameplay-specific locales. Instead of a basic destination selector, however, the player is automatically shown a map of the city, allowing the player to immediately pinpoint their destination using a map marker. After selecting a destination, the player is treated with a similar cutscene of the taxi the player is in traveling towards the destination, which the player can skip.
Like GTA IV, the cost of a taxi ride is dependent on the distance of the ride; the longer the ride, the more expensive it is.
Taxi rides return in GTA V. All Taxis encountered in the game bare the livery of the Downtown Cab Co. In GTA V, the enter/exit vehicle commands are switched, meaning that the player now presses the button to enter a taxi as a passenger, and holds it to hijack the vehicle. However, the protagonists can no longer use their weapons whilst in a taxi. The protagonists can now use their smartphones to send a taxi to their location. The protagonists can now bail out of a moving taxi to avoid paying for the ride, at the cost of receiving an instant wanted level. To leave the cab safely before reaching their destination, the player can now ask the driver to pull over and exit the vehicle before reaching their destination.
In GTA V, Franklin Clinton has the option to purchase the Downtown Cab Co. for $200,000. If he does so, every subsequent taxi journey he takes will be free of charge.
In GTA Online, Taxi Rides are also available. However, the player can't skip the ride and if the player presses the "hurry" button, the driver will not travel at top speed, making taxi rides somewhat undesirable.
- In GTA V, even if the player asks the driver to "hurry up", they may still stop at red lights and refuse to drive on certain dirt roads.