Vodafone's patriotic taxis offer free mobile charging and payments service

Seen a London cab adorned with the Union Jack recently? It's nothing to do with the royal wedding. It's Vodafone's new mobile-friendly taxi fleet.

Andy Merrett
Andy Merrett has been using mobile phones since the days when they only made voice calls. Since then he has worked his way through a huge number of Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson models. Andy is a freelance writer and is not an employee of CNET.
Andy Merrett
2 min read

We've not strayed from the suburbs since that wedding, but for those of you in central London wondering if Will and Kate are the reason some taxi cabs have adorned the Union Jack... they're not.

Patriotic Vodafone may be, but the latest addition to the Windsor family isn't enough to get the British mobile giant to paint our taxis red, white and blue. Showing off its new mobile payment service is.

Not one to be left out in the cold with this highly exciting contact-less, cashless payment shenanigans (when is Barclaycard going to build that water slide through the City?), Vodafone is now allowing its customers to pay for their taxi fares using their phone. Simply send 'Taxi' plus the taxi's number and amount to pay to 31255. At last! No more embarrassment or physical injury as you attempt to prise change from a twenty from the cabbie's clammy hand.

Non-Vodafone mobile users aren't completely neglected, either -- free mobile charging stations will juice up any phone. Hmm... is that fare counter notching up the pounds just a little bit faster?

Vodafone's entire fleet of taxis, some 500 in total, should be fully kitted out with the chargers by August. The payment service is free to use, at least during this introductory period. Save your money for those outdated establishments that still accept 'cash'.

Airport-bound? You'll see all seven Heathrow Express trains adorned in the Union Jack during May and June, though it's not 100 per cent clear if you'll be able to charge your phone on one.

How much of a top-up your phone gets is questionable. It depends how much power is pushed through the cable, how far your journey is, and how long you're stuck in traffic. It's probably best not to expect a full battery before you hop out.