Here's the inside of a Cairo black taxi.
These taxis would be illegal in the States. They'd never pass any safety inspection and certainly would not meet smog standards as they careen around town spewing leaded fumes.
I took a black taxi to Bab Zuweila yesterday. I wish there were some magic key to telling if a driver were competent and honest, but unfortunately, you never know until the ride is over. Are you safely at your destination and did he accept a fair price? Or are you clear across town and is he screaming for more money?
Yesterday's driver took me about three blocks then pulled over to give water to another driver, whose taxi's radiator had burst. He got back in and started fussing with me about what fare I was going to pay him. I told him to pull over--my policy is to get out whenever they start trying to negotiate. Fares are set, by a nebulous zone system. There's no room for negotiation. Unless you're a tourist who doesn't know better.
I thought we'd reached a compromise--a too expensive one--and off we went. He took me to some city walls that were halfway to Nasr City and declared "Bab Zuweila." I laughed at him and said "That's not Bab Zuweila."
I caught another taxi to my destination. Made it safely, plus I got to see something I'd never seen before. Pity I have no idea what it was called.