Taking a Taxi
The best thing about taxis is that they are plentiful, at least in Manhattan, where more than 12,000 cabs drive zealously in pursuit of their next fare. They are available at all hours and get you places quickly. Taxi fares currently begin at $2.50 and increase $0.40 for every mile when the cab's speed exceeds six miles per hour; otherwise the fare increases $0.40 every two minutes. There is a $1.00 surcharge for rides beginning between 4
Outside of Manhattan, you need to call to get a taxi or car serice. In Manhattan, however, you can get a taxi through the concierge at your (or any) hotel, at a taxi stand, or, most commonly, by standing on the corner and signaling with your arm up. When you hail a cab, make sure the vehicle that responds is a yellow medallion cab. Do not get into a cab that is not licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Be aggressive when hailing a cab, particularly in busy areas. Watch how New Yorkers do it; it's an art. The toughest times to get a taxi are during rush hour, in the rain, or at 4
When a cab stops to pick you up, do not tell the driver where you are going until you are seated and the door is closed. Once inside, the cab driver cannot turn you away. If a cab driver attempts to turn you away, take down his number and report him to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, or call a police officer to intervene.
Clearly explain to the driver where you are going. Giving street coordinates, such as “Thirty-fourth Street and Fifth Avenue, please” is usually the best way to get where you want to go, better than giving a street address. If you are going to a well-known building, you can say so, such as “I'm going to Macy's.” As you would in any other car, make sure you and your children are secured in seat belts.
New York offers some hybrid taxis, and the entire fleet is scheduled to go green by 2012. The hybrid vehicles will cut the fleet's carbon emissions in half over the next decade and will represent thousands of dollars of savings in fuel costs.
Have your money ready as you approach your destination. The driver gets the amount on the meter plus a tip (usually 15 percent). He or she may not ask for more, except for tolls incurred. Rules and rates are posted clearly in the back of the cab.
Watch carefully when getting out of a cab; the driver may leave you in a busy area, and bike messengers think nothing of zipping past a taxi on the passenger side. Look before getting out.
Check to make sure you take your belongings. When you pay, you should ask for a receipt — not only for your travel expense records, but also so you'll have the taxi ID number in case you leave something behind in the cab. Call the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission at 311 or 212-639-9675 (or go online at
SUV cabs have been introduced to the city. Still yellow, and still the same price, they carry up to six passengers. By law, regular cabs can only carry four passengers, and one of those has to sit in the front with the driver.