Getting around New York City can be a bit confusing when you’re not a local. You can either take the Subway, walk or catch a Cab.
The Subway is cheap but probably not the best idea if you’re carrying lots of stuff or not confident in what line to take.
When you think of New York, places like Central Park, Hot dogs from the Food Carts and riding in a Yellow Cab probably pop into your head. So when in New York City – I urge you to experience them all!
I remember my first yellow cab ride, it was about 1am in the morning and I’d had about 8 shots of tequila and vodka along with many raspberry & lemonade Vodka’s. Okay….so maybe I don’t remember it as clearly as I should. But I do remember the driver having to pull over so I can spew on the sidewalk – classy I know.
From what I’ve read and experienced, I’ve come up with a small guide of some rules to follow when catching a Taxi in The Big Apple.
Hailing a cab
Don’t yell out “TAXI!!” and flail your arms around like the do in the movies. You’ll look like the biggest tourist and probably a bit like a dick. You don’t even need to yell out “Taxi”, just walk onto the road* and a simple arm in the air will do.
To save yourself some money on the meter, hail a cab heading in the direction you’re going so they don’t have to turn around.
*please check for traffic otherwise you’ll be experiencing your first NYC Ambulance ride instead.
WHEN to hail a cab
Only hail for a cab when the center numbers on top of the cab are lit up.
All taxi’s have a roof light with numbers and letters on it. If none of the lights are lit – the cab already has someone in it so they can’t pick you up.
If the center lights are lit up then you’re free to step out and hail away.
However, if all the lights are lit up, including the ‘off duty’ lights, than this means the cabbie is off duty and is probably on his way home or on a break.
Getting your drivers attention
Street corners are always the best place to hail a taxi but they can get pretty crowded in peak hour. Step off the sidewalk and into the street so the cabbies can notice you and throw your hand up in the air. Try and catch your drivers eye so he knows to stop for you, he’ll usually give you a sign that he’s going to pull over.
Know your address
If you’re heading somewhere like The Empire State Building or The Rockefeller Center, cabbies usually know where to go. However, somewhere like Central Park or Sephora is very vague. There’s so many different entrances to Central Park they wouldn’t know where to drop you!
Even hotels or hostels are hard for them to find, they don’t do a geography test before becoming a driver so it’s up to you to know the closest cross streets to your destination.
If you’re familiar with New York City, you’ll know that all the streets are made up into a ‘Grid System’
All Avenues run north (uptown) to south (downtown). Streets always run east to west (crosstown).
Apart from large cross-streets that run in both directions.
In Manhattan, “Downtown” generally refers to anything south of 14th Street, “Midtown” to addresses between 34th and 59th Streets, and “Uptown” to areas above 59th Street.
The minimum fare is $2.50.
They won’t charge you extra for luggage but you will be charged if you pass any toll bridges during the ride. This will be added on top of your fare.
Cabbies would rather take cash, but legally they have to accept Credit Cards. If their credit card machine isn’t working, they have to tell you when you first hop into the Taxi. This gives you a chance to get out and find another one. Legally Drivers are permitted to work with a broken system for up to 48 hours as long as they have reported the problem and are awaiting repair.
Always take your receipt, so if you have any complaints it’ll have the Taxi medallion number on it (and also good if you leave something behind)
Note: There’s a ‘flat-fare’ of $52.00 plus any tolls if you’re traveling from Manhatten to JFK Airport plus a surcharge of $4.50 between the hours of 4 PM and 8 PM. (Rush hour)
If you’re not used to tipping, you have to remember you’re in America and it’s their custom to tip!
The usual amount to tip the driver is 10% to 20% of the total fare, depending on how large of a bill it was and how good the service was.
If you’re getting a taxi in rush hour, this is usually when you’d tip a little bit more as lots of people are taking Taxi’s (including business people) who tend to tip more generously. But of course, it’s up to you…
Green Cabs (Boro Taxis)
These taxi’s aren’t allowed to pick up people from the side of the street below West 110th Street and East 96th Street. They’re specifically for picking up people in the Outer Boroughs like Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. They can take you to the airport if you’re staying out in the Outer Boroughs but they can’t pick up someone from the Airport which makes some cab drivers a bit reluctant to drive you to catch your flight.
- The maximum amount of passengers allowed in a yellow taxicab by law is four (or 5) in a 5 passenger taxicab
- Additional passengers under 7 years old can sit on someones lap
- Drivers can’t refuse you if you have more than one stop, however the meter will keep running at every stop and you have to pay the total end fare.
- Taxi drivers are not permitted to refuse service, because they do not know how to reach a destination. They should all have a map in their cab.
- It is against the law to refuse a person based on race, disability, or a destination in New York City. (However if they have to drive more than 12 hours, they can refuse you)
Remember, Taxi drivers will always make an effort to pick you up. This is their job and they get paid for taking passengers!
If a cabbie see’s you from afar, he’ll speed up to try and get your fare so don’t worry about missing out.