We’ve all seen that guy in the movies – hurrying down a New York City street, arm raised as he approaches the curb, and a taxi suddenly appears, just in time! And if you’re heading to New York City, it really can be like that for you, too! But you’ve gotta want it (and your results may vary, for a variety of reasons).
Livin’ Like a Local
When you see a taxi with that medallion light on, he’s ready for a pick up. If the cab has no medallion lights illuminated, he’s already got a fare; better luck with the next one. And if the medallion lights are on AND the off-duty lights are on, well, you get it…
So go on, do it like a local – when you need a cab, get right out at the curb and throw that hand in the air like you were born for this. Make eye contact with a taxi driver. Make sure you’re on the lookout for one who’s on duty and ready for a fare. Stick with TLC-licensed cabs – you’ll notice the medallion, which is that number on the roof of the car, flanked by lights.
If hailing a cab like a local isn’t for you, some really-high traffic areas have taxi stands. Which is good or bad, because you stand in line and wait your turn for a cab. And sometimes, it’s kind of a long line, and you’re standing there, waiting… You can also use one of several apps to help you locate an available taxi; take a look at E-HAIL by iTaxi for iOS or CabSense.
Be mindful of rush hour traffic and availability. Lots of drivers head back to the garage for a 4-5pm shift change – less cabs are available, so plan ahead.
Each ride has a base fare plus additional charges. The base fare rate in the summer of 2016 is $3.30 plus $0.50 each per 1/5 mile, per minute (when traveling slower than 12mph; i.e., stopped), and per night surcharge (8pm-6am). There’s also a $1 extra for rush hour travel from 4pm-8pm, Monday-Friday. If you’re looking to travel to and from airports, rates can vary. Passengers pay any bridge and tunnel tolls; those tolls are added to the fare. You can pay your fare with cash, debit or credit card – there’s no minimum, and no extra fee for using your card.
Your taxi driver will appreciate tips – both monetary for a job well-done and geographical – if you know the cross street of the address you’re heading to, share it. While drivers do have a good knowledge of NYC streets, the more specific the location you can provide, the easier and more efficiently you’ll get there. Tipping your taxi driver 15-20% is customary but feel free to go up or down for a job especially well or poorly done.
Using a taxi in New York City means you run the risk of leaving something behind. Make sure you get a receipt when you pay the fare. This has the medallion number on it, which is essential for lost and found, and makes it easier to pass along compliments or complaints to the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission.
The Passenger’s Bill of Rights
As a passenger in a NYC cab, you do have a bill of rights to protect you. Among other protections, you have the right to AC or heat as requested, working seatbelts, a driver NOT on the phone, a clean cab, and travel to your destination via the most direct or requested route. Finding a 4-5 passenger cab is typical. One additional passenger under age 7 is okay on an adult lap; car seats are encouraged and drivers are required to let passengers use one.
If you’re the multitasking type, you should be aware that multiple stops okay but the meter runs as if you’re taking one continuous trip – which could add up! For more information, you can visit the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission online here.