A cab is one of the best ways to move around Rio. All legal cabs are yellow with a blue stripe painted on the sides. Taxis not designed like this are special service cars (to the airport or bus stations) or illegal. Rio taxis are not too expensive on a kilometre basis but distances can be quite considerable.
A journey from Zona Sul to the Centro will cost around R$20, and from the airport to Copacabana is around R$50 for example. The car can usually hold four people. You can ask a cab for a city tour, and arrange a fixed price (may be around US$20). Major taxi companies include Central de Taxi, Ouro Taxi and Yellow Taxi.
After getting into the taxi, check to see if the taximeter has been started, it charges R$4.40 (March 2011) for the minimum ride, called bandeirada), and R$1.60 per kilometer. If not, ask the taxi driver to do so. You may be ripped off by some taxi drivers.
If you want to avoid being ripped off then it may be worthing taking a 'radio-taxi', particularly when arriving at the airport. Radio Taxis, such as Rio Airport Transferand others are usually the blue, green, or white taxis and they do cost a little more than the typical yellow taxi. The advantage of a radio taxi is that you pay a fixed rate regardless of the time of day or if there's heavy traffic etc, this means that you do not risk the price increasing at the drivers discretion.
While many of these companies do have websites, they are generally in Portuguese and do not provide you with prices. The exception to this is Rio Airport Transfer,, which allows you to choose your arrival and drop off points and will quote you a price, you can then pay for your transfer online from the comfort of your armchair. Other companies such as Holiday Taxis also offer transfers in Rio, however they tend to be very expensive.
For those travelling to Rio for Carnival it's worth using a company that allows you to book and pay in advance, and to try and pay as much in advance as possible as prices tend to increase a few weeks before Carnival.
Be aware that traffic jams in Rio can be terrible at times. A taxi ride from Ipanema to the bus terminal for instance can take an hour and a half if you get seriously stuck, so make sure you have margins in case you really can´t afford to be late.

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