In cities where you need to cover a lot of ground but you can't always drive yourself, taxicabs are a great solution. For many urbanites, taxis are the only way to get to and from work each day. The best way to make your taxi ride as pleasurable as possible is to know the ins and outs of hailing, riding in, and paying for a taxi.
How to Hail a Cab
Depending on the city you're in, there may be different ways or locations where you need to go to hail a cab. In big cities like New York City, all you need to do is stand on the curb and stick your arm out in an informal wave. This is sure to get the attention of a couple of taxi drivers. You should get into the first cab that pulls up in front of you.
In other cities, you may have to stand in a queue at a designated spot or corner where rules say that taxis are allowed to pick up and discharge passengers only. If this is the situation, then you'll just have to wait in line like everyone else.
Never try to steal a cab from another person, no matter how late you're running to an appointment. It is acceptable, however, to approach someone near you who is also trying to hail a cab and suggest that the two of you share a cab.
Your Cab Ride
As soon as you get into the cab, you should say, “Hello” and “Thank you” to the driver. Then you should give him the information about where you're going.
Most cabs come equipped with seatbelts these days, and you should always buckle up. If you forget and your cab driver reminds you, don't scold him. Thank him for the reminder and then put your seatbelt on.
Tipping the Driver
It is customary to add on a tip to a cab fare, no matter how long or short your ride was. Tipping cabbies is a bit more complicated than tipping other service people. Instead of just adding 15 percent or 20 percent to the fare, many people round up the fare to form the tip.
Let's say that your cab ride cost you $4.25. Why not round the fare up to $5.00? This gives the driver almost a 20 percent tip and it gets you out of the cab in a jiffy. Of course, if your cabbie went the extra mile and not only loaded your bags into the trunk but also opened your door for you, you might want to be a bit more generous with your tip on a $4.25 fare and give him $6.00. On the other hand, if your cab driver was rude, drove erratically and never even acknowledged your presence, you could give him $4.50 (in exact change) and call it a day.
Courteous Ways to Complain
Many American cities have rules regarding exactly how they expect drivers to treat their taxi passengers. Some of these expectations might include:
An English-speaking driver who knows his way around the city.
A driver who drives safely with traffic laws in mind.
A comfortable cab with heat in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer.
A cab that is quiet or a driver who will put on the radio upon a passenger's request.
A driver who picks up any and all passengers who hail his cab.
If you ride in a taxi and don't feel like you've been treated courteously, it's fine to file a complaint with that city's taxi commission. Just make sure you get all the information you'll need to identify the driver before you leave the cab. This includes the driver's name and taxi license number, the medallion number of the cab, and your location when the problem occurred.