TAXI! This one word has a power to call a car, you hop in and your on your way in NYC, or at least you hope you’ll find a taxi.
1. How to know if a cab is available- On top of a cab is a sign with the cab number. If the light is on it means the cab if available, if it’s off then it’s either in use or off-duty.
2. How to hail a taxi- This is something people are often timid about. All you have to do is look to see if any cabs are coming, then check for the light and stick your arm out. Don’t wave it around or jump up and down. I do recommend standing to the edge of the sidewalk and doing a little lean, but if they are free they will stop.
3. Shift Change – This is important. Everyday there is a big shift change between 4pm-6pm. This means getting a taxi is next to impossible. Plan for this and either walk, take the subway or get an Uber. I’ll warn you that Uber does raise their rates at this time usually to 2x as much as the normal rate.
4. Yellow vs. Green – You’ll notice there aren’t just yellow taxis in NYC anymore. The green ones came about a few years ago and you know those won’t give you a hard time if you have to go to one of the boroughs (Queens, Brooklyn etc.)
5. Taxi from the Airport – This is the biggest question. There are taxi stands all over the place at both JFK and LGA. There is a flat rate of $52 (plus tolls) from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan. The rate from LGA to Manhattan is meter rate. There’s no fee for luggage or per person. If you’re traveling from Manhattan to JFK or LGA you’ll pay the meter rate.
6. Taxi Rate – As of July 2015 the current taxi rates are:
- The initial charge is $2.50.
- Plus 50 cents per 1/5 mile or 50 cents per 60 seconds in slow traffic or when the vehicle is stopped.
- In moving traffic on Manhattan streets, the meter should “click” approximately every four downtown blocks, or one block going cross-town (East-West).
- There is a 50-cent MTA State Surcharge for all trips that end in New York City or Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange or Putnam Counties.
- There is a 30-cent Improvement Surcharge.
- There is a daily 50-cent surcharge from 8pm to 6am.
- There is a $1 surcharge from 4pm to 8pm on weekdays, excluding holidays.
- Passengers must pay all bridge and tunnel tolls.
- Your receipt will show your total fare including tolls. Please take your receipt.
- The driver is not required to accept bills over $20.
- Please tip your driver for safety and good service.
- There are no charges for extra passengers or bags.
7. Your rights as a passenger – Once you sit down in a cab they have to take you where you want to go (within the 5 boroughs or any of the airports). This is why you’ll find a lot of drivers will ask “Where to” before you get in the car. You can also check out the Bill of Rights for more fun info.
Fun Story: I was was 8 months pregnant and the driver wouldn’t let me in the cab because he didn’t want to take me where I wanted to go.
8. Cash vs. Credit – The drivers always appreciate cash. I prefer to use credit for the purpose if I forget or lose anything I can call to figure out the cab and driver and hopefully track down my missing item.
Fun Story: My boss left his laptop in the trunk of a cab. We managed to track it down via the credit card and it was returned the next day.
9. Car Service – If you can’t get a taxi a car service like Uber or Lyft is always an option. These are legit and quite nice. You don’t have to worry so much about hailing them down, but you can pay more money sometimes.
10. Subway – There are certain times of the day when traffic is just horrible so you’ll find yourself just sitting in a cab while the meter adds up. I personally find it’s never faster than the subway. If it’s intimidating don’t worry. Checkout HopStop. It’s a great website to help you navigate the tunnels.
There you have it. A few taxi tips for your trip to NYC.
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This post contains affiliate links. This post is current as of July 14, 2015