HOW TO HAIL A TAXI

 

Just like you see in the movies, all you have to do is stand on the corner and raise your hand.

When a taxi approaches you, get in the cab and close the door. Then, greet the cabbie and tell the cabbie your destination.

Tell your driver the intersection or address where you are going. Don't just say, "Affinia Dumont Hotel" or "Keen's Steakhouse."

For visitors from the UK: Don’t expect New York cabbies to know the way to your destination like London cabbies. Cab drivers like it best if you can give them an intersection as a destination. (ie: 42nd and 7th) . Always get the address or the cross-streets of where you are going, even if it's a famous landmark or well-known hotel or restaurant. This will make your life a lot easier. 

DO NOT tell the cabbie where you are going BEFORE YOU GET IN. If a taxi driver asks you where you are going before you get in the car, DO NOT ANSWER.

It is ILLEGAL for any cabbie to REFUSE A FARE in any of NYC's five boroughsCab drivers sometimes keep their doors locked until you tell them where you are headed. Unfortunately, this often happens to tourists and locals alike. If this happens, let the taxi go and get the next one. If you can get their license number, you can file a complaint A licensed NYC taxi driver can not refuse you just because it is out of his way, inconvenient, in a neighborhood he does not like, because of your race, or if you have too many packages, small children or a wheelchair.

 

ARE TAXIS WORTH IT?

Even though it's the most costly way of getting around the city, taxis can be a life saver if you have a lot of luggage or purchases in tow, if you spent the night club- or bar-hopping or if you simply forgot to wear sensible shoes! It is most frustrating, however, when a cab is nowhere to be found when you really need one (late at night, when it’s raining, during rush hour, etc., etc.).

Fares begin with an initial charge of $2.50, with added charges of $0.40 for each 1/5 mile (~4 north-south blocks) and $0.40 for each minute idle. An extra night charge of $0.50 is added between 8 pm and 5 am and $1 for rush hour between 4 pm and 8 pm. Despite the price, taxis are a prudent choice when you have a group of people who are all able to split the cost of the ride.

Sedans can take four passengers, and minivans can take five. A passenger is allowed to sit in the front, next to the driver.

To save money on cab rides, you can also try using a new online platform, "Cab With ME" which helps you find others nearby with whom you can share the taxi. 

If you don't find your answer here, you can try the The Taxi and Limosuine Commission's webpage of Frequently Asked Questions:

  

HOW DO I KNOW IF THE TAXI IS AVAILABLE?

Look for the roof light.

 Taxi Roof Light

If the CENTER roof light with the taxi LICENSE NUMBER is ON, the taxi is available.

If the light is OFF, it is not available.

If the outer OFF DUTY roof lights are on, the taxi is off duty. Put your arm down and wait for the next one. In some instances, an off duty driver will stop and ask you where you are going. They do this because they may be heading in the same direction as a potential passenger and so they figure they might as well take a fare. However, because they are off duty, they can technically deny you if your destination is out of their way. This is a common practice.

Taxi roof light in LEGO

Estimating your fare

NYC taxis do NOT charge by the person. NYC taxis do NOT charge you for baggage. Taxi fares are based on meters which measure distance and time. You simply pay the fare on the meter - whether it is for one or five people -  plus any additional night or rush hour surcharges, plus any tolls, plus any tip you decide. This is why groups of three or four sometimes consider taxis good for short trips.

You can estimate your fare using the New York Taxi Fare Finder.

Tolls

Crossings with tolls:

  • Brookyn-Battery Tunnel
  • Queens-Midtown Tunnel
  • George Washington Bridge
  • Holland Tunnel
  • Triborough Bridge
  • Bronx-Whitestone Bridge
  • Throgsneck Bridge
  •  Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
  • Henry Hudson Bridge

 Free crossings:

  • Queensborough-59th Street Bridge
  • Williamsburg Bridge
  • Manhattan Bridge
  • Brooklyn Bridge

Drivers must use EZ-Pass to pay tolls, and the passenger pays the discounted rate of the toll.

Tipping

Minimum tips usually run 15-20 percent of the total fare, and some cabs take cash only; if you plan to use this mode of transport, don’t forget to take small bills with you.

Some cabs have a credit card screen in the back for you to slide your card and pay automatically. The driver never handles your card. In this case, suggested tip amounts are displayed on the screen and you choose which one. Tip suggestions shown are 20%, 25% and 30% of the fare. You can also choose to enter your own tip.  You will only need to sign the receipt for fares at least $25.

Taking taxis outside the city limits

Taxis are required to take you to any point in New York City, Westchester and Nassau counties, as well as Newark Airport but they are not required to accept trips to other places in New Jersey, Connecticut or other surrounding New York State counties, such as Suffolk. If they agree to take you outside NYC, they are entitled to charge double the meter for the portion of the trip outside the city border.


TAKING TAXIS TO AND FROM AIRPORTS

WARNING: Beware of scams!

 

Use only OFFICIAL NYC YELLOW TAXIS or PRE-ARRANGED CAR SERVICES.  Never accept a ride from anyone who offers you a ride, especially near the luggage carousel or directly outside the terminal doors.

It is illegal for livery cars, Lincoln Town Car ("black car") services and limousine drivers to solicit for passengers at aiport terminals.Typically, these drivers run scams and will ask for more money once you get to your destination. They will make a scene and rely on the victim's shame and lack of confidence to fork over more money.  Drivers are also not allowed to charge for luggage or usage of the trunk.

 Taxi sharing, while not that popular yet,  can be arranged through www.hitchsters.com.

JFK

As of September 2012, official NYC Taxis charge a standard flat rate of $52.00 (plus a $.50 MTA tax) for any trip between JFK and any point in Manhattan, in either direction. This does not include tip and any applicable tolls.

LGA

There is no standard flat-rate between LGA and Manhattan. Simply pay what is on the meter, plus tip and tolls.

Limousines, Town Cars and other services

You can arrange in advance for a car service or limo to pick you up. The company will usually give the customer a car number, which will be displayed in the car window. Or, the driver will meet the party at the luggage carousel, holding a sign with the passenger's name.

Some basic Q and As on hailing a NYC taxi:

"How do you hail a cab on the street? Do cabs really stop in front of you when you put your hand up, like they do in the movies?"

Yes. Stand on the curb and raise your arm, as if you want a classroom teacher to call on you. An open taxi will pull up to you.

"Can taxis pick up more people once I'm in the car?"

No. They can do this in other cities, such as Washington D.C., but not NYC.

"I've been standing on the corner forever and all the taxis are zipping past me ! How can I tell if a taxi is available?" 

Here's a visual summary from "How to Hail a Taxi Cab Like a Man".

 

You could also simply spend your time waving your arm willy-nilly without porpose until a taxi stops for you, but in the end,

  • you'll get frustrated
  • your arm will hurt
  • NYers will all shake their heads and laugh at you behind your back

Be aware that cabbies change their shifts between 4-5pm, so it's going to be very difficult to get a cab during that time, especially since it also coincides with when people are getting off work. You'll see cabs that have their number lit and are not off duty drive right by you because they don't want to take a fare that is going to cause them to work past when they need to. According to this 2011 article from the NY Times, the number of taxis on the streets falls by nearly 20% during this time.

" I wanted to take a certain route, but the cabby said that wasn't a good idea. Is this allowed? Am I getting ripped off?"

Cabbies typically know the traffic situations and "back routes" better than anyone. Cabbies listen to radio traffic reports and talk to each other on the phone all day, so they're probably correct.

Many cabbies will ask you if you're ok with a diffferent route. If you don't have any reason to object, why not go for it. However, you may insist on specific routes and the cabby is supposed to follow your instructions. For example, from La Guarida Airport to Manhattan, the Queensborough Bridge has no tolls and offers a great view of the Manhattan skyline. The Tirborough Bridge or Queens-Midtown Tunnel (both with tolls) might in fact bring you closer to your desitination, but if you want the Queensborough Bridge, say so.

"Can I hail a swanky limo or Lincoln Town Car from the street? Since I've been standing here in front of this dance club, lots of black Lincoln Town Cars are trawling by asking if I need a ride."

No. It is illegal to hail limos and livery cabs on the street. People do it all the time, but it is illegal. If you choose to take a ride from a livery car on the street, you will have to negotiate a price with the driver, and hope that he keeps his end of the bargain at the end of the ride. Newcomers, novices and folks with "impaired judgement" after having a few at a bar or club are easy targets for livery drivers. Ride at your own risk.

If you want the fancy wheels, do it legally. Call for a car service (also called "livery service" in the phone book). Bartenders, restaurant hosts and hotels usually have car service phone numbers on hand.

"How come I need to know the intersections of where I want to go? Shouldn't cabbies know addresses and all the hotels in NYC?"

You don't need to know the intersections, but it will make life easier. Tell the driver the cross streets, such as "Madison Avenue and 28th Street, please.", and you will avoid confusion.

"A cab pulled up to me and asked where I was going? I told him, and he said, 'Sorry', and sped off. What nerve!"

When a cab stops for you, get in first, greet the cabby, shut the door and then tell the driver where you are going. An on-duty cab driver has a legal duty to take you wherever you request.

"My cabbie hardly spoke English! How offensive! How can this be allowed?"

It is possible that a newer immigrant may not understand your accent, or only know enough American English to start the job. Please be patient and speak in a slow, clear manner. Being a taxi driver is a popular job opportunity for new immigrants. You are being a part of the American Dream.

"My cabbie missed my destination and now we are stuck in traffic! I feel like this is going to cost me more wasted time and money. What should I do?"

Politely ask the cabbie to pull over, pay your fare and tip, get out and walk to your desitination. This is not considered rude or unusual. In fact, you are giving your cabbie the opportunity to get another, perhaps better, fare.

"Sure, I can be understanding, but I just had an awful experience! The car was filthy, the driver was smoking and used foul language, and would not follow my preferred instructions! We even got into an accident! Plus, I think I left something in the back seat of the cab. What should I do?"

Call the Taxi and Limosine Commission immediately and report the Medallion Number and name of the driver. The Medallion Number is indicated on the back of the front seat, on the roof light, the license plate and on the photo ID on the seat partition.