1. Good-looking blue "Executive" taxis which are easily found at major shopping malls, at a surcharge of RM2 just so some uniform-wearing chap would wave at the driver to pull up at their "counter". Meter starts at RM6 and subsequent increments of 20sen per 100m.
2. "Normal" taxis that are either red and white (the most common), English mustardy yellow or lime green ones. These range from very clean (lucky you!) to downright dirty along with that smell of sweat gone stale. Eewk. Meter starts at RM3 with 10sen increments (per 115m).
Ask me again today how many types of taxis there are in KL and my answer is two. Honest and dishonest. And I had learnt enough to say that greed has no race. One just can't tell, really.
Our best trip so far is by this guy who drove us from Jalan Ampang to Menara Telekom and back one afternoon. His vehicle wasn't in its best condition but he was very pleasant. In fact, we boarded his taxi again recently, not knowing it was the same guy. We got into the taxi, he started driving and at the junction, turned back and asked if we remembered him.
That evening though, he was apologetic throughout our journey to Pavilion -- the taxi's air-cond has given up on him earlier and was barely blowing. We were caught in the peak-hour jam and I felt sorry that he was perspiring and apologizing at the same time. He dropped us off at the nearer (albeit more difficult to turn into) entrance of the mall simply because he couldn't bear for us to be in his near-stuffy cab any longer.
A few other good ones: young Pakistani chap who grew up here earning his keep; grandpa who drives only five to six hours daily to keep himself occupied (one son is a doctor and the other a businessman); this pro-opposition joker who has no qualms "critiquing" the ruling party and its leaders; and the one who drove so efficiently his meter barely jumped. Ooh I think this one deserves his own paragraph:
See, I forgot to mention that for normal taxis, the meter stays at the RM3 mark for the first kilometer. It was Sunday late morning (read: super-smooth traffic) when this guy drove us to Pavilion taking the most direct route. By the time we reached the mall, the meter was not even RM5! Nonetheless we paid him what would have normally been. Why should one be penalized for being honest and efficient no less?
The blue executive taxis are rather okay if money is no object. Granted there are some pleasant drivers but only a handful. The rest of them - or at least the ones I've encountered - behave like they're part of a gang. They bully their way through traffic just because. Efficiency is the least of their concerns as they may even take you for a ride, literally.
We never entertain drivers who name their price for our intended journey. My personal opinion is that they should just be bank robbers and pull off a stunt or two every quarter of the year. Then there're those who use their meters only because they had already been tampered with. And the ones who use their yet-to-be-tampered meters but think we're tourists. Hence they find cheap ways of ripping us off by adding the RM2 call surcharge (one even "explained" that it was a new government tax while another even challenged us to file a complaint!) or driving a longer route for that little extra. Well, JL sure looks like a tourist and as long as I keep my mouth shut or speak only English, the drivers can't decide if I am local.
Here's the bottom-line on taxi drivers: there're only two types (honest or dishonest) around so cross your fingers, don't judge them by their appearances, and reward a good driver when you encounter one.