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Taxis are widely available in downtown Boston, although it can be difficult to find an available cab late at night on the weekends when swarms of inebriated twenty- and thirty-somethings make their way home from the bar and club scene. If you are traveling with friends, taxis are a pretty good way to get around, especially after midnight when the T shuts down. Cab fare is not cheap, with Boston now among the five most expensive large citites for taxi service— click here for current rates and more information.
In the downtown area, most hotels will call a taxi for you. There are also taxi stands located strategically near many of the city’s popular destinations, including Faneuil Hall, Copley Place, South Station, North Station, and Back Bay Train Station. These taxi stands can be identified by a sign indicating it is a taxi stand and the long line of taxis waiting for a fare. You may also wave a taxi down that is travelling on the the street, if it is unoccupied.
Cabs are typically in plentiful supply at Logan Airport and are available at the airport taxi stand. Note that cab fare to and from Logan Airport includes additional surcharges and tolls for the tunnels. Using one to get to and from your hotel in Boston is a good option if you prefer not to lug their suitcases up and down the stairs of subway stations. To save some money, you can always take a taxi to a subway station and travel more economically around town. Van and Wagon taxi cabs may charge an extra $5 for excessive luggage, boxes, or skis.
Notably, Boston can be subject to poor winter weather conditions, which may cause taxis to be in short supply and in these cases taxis may accept double fares. When a taxi is occupied by more than one party, each will be charged the regular fare, less two dollars ($2.00). Under these conditions there shall be no charge for any tolls or fees. Under these conditions there is a minimum charge of $2.50 for each party.
Suburbs within 12 miles of Boston operate on metered city fares (with more distant suburbs on a flat fare basis from places like the airport), but others have their own local cab services which are usually slightly more expensive. Several taxi companies service the Boston area, so if you know you will be needing one, ask the hotel staff to arrange a ride for you or call at your own convenience.
In case you need to call a cab to for pickup a more residential spot in Boston, here are the major cab companies:
For fare estimates, use this handy calculator: Boston Taxi Fare Finder.
With the cost of gasoline soaring and a very convenient public transportation system in place, renting a car in Boston is becoming less and less appealing. However, during the summer traveling by car is the best (and often the only) way to get to Cape Cod and the rest of the Massachusetts shore or other attractions off the beaten path. If you just don’t want to be constrained by the commuter rail and public transportation schedules, then renting a car may be the right choice. Before you decide to rent, check out the prices at different rental agencies (there are many), and do try to book early, which may give you a chance at a better rate. Most agents offer a convenient pick-up service at Logan Airport, so if you are flying into town, see whether your agency has one.
Since downtown Boston is one of the few truly walkable cities in America, almost European in feel, consider holding off on the rental until you really need it. The airport is so close to downtown, with multiple methods of getting to downtown hotels (MBTA, taxi, shared hotel van), that it may be wiser to go directly to your hotel and rent a car as needed to head out of town. Daily parking rates even at the hotels are intimidating.
Another advantage of waiting until after your visit to downtown Boston to rent a car is the avoidance of the airport's onerous $10 per day "Convention Center Surcharge," $30-$50 per day parking fees, and streets impossible to navigate without a GPS. When moving on from Boston, take the subway to Cambridge and pick up a car there.