Kolkata just wouldn't look the same without the plethora of yellow ambassador taxis that ply on its roads. They're easily available and relatively cheap, and will usually use their meters. The meters are, however, outdated.
The fare is 2 times the reading if the meter is inside, and 4 times the reading if the meter is outside. However, it is almost impossible now to find any meters outside. All Taxi meters are digital ones which are placed inside the cab. The Meter starts from Rs. 10, which means Rs. 20 actually. There is a "green taxi" which is red coloured (!) and charges the same. In case you are confused always ask to see the chart that the driver is supposed to carry with him.
Expect to pay a bit more if you are going to the outskirts of the city or traveling at night. How much more that depends on your bargaining skills, but it should be at most Rs. 10-20 on top of the taxi meter. Unlike other metro cities in India, there is no 50%-100% surcharge for late night hires (10PM-11PM onwards).
If you are lucky enough you can catch an air-conditioned cab, but those are very few in number. Presently one may find 'Orix' or 'Megacabs' taxis on call. These are air-conditioned taxis and the fare about INR 15-20 per km traveled. The telephone numbers to call (once you are in Kolkata, of course) for these taxis are Orix - 44222222 and Megacabs - 41414141.
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