Along with the subway system, taxis are the number one means of transportation in New York City. What are the do’s and don’ts of taking a cab in NYC? Get all the tips and tricks on the subject of taxis in New York City right here.
Take on the challenge: hailing a cab
People often ask us: “Is it really true that you just stand on the street and hail a taxi?” In the city, that’s exactly how it’s done. Unless there is a big hotel like the Waldorf Astoria just a few meters next to where you are standing, cabs will always be on the lookout for their next customer.
When several people are standing on the street trying to do the same, be sure that you are always a step ahead of everyone else. Get their attention by waving or raising your arm while trying to make eye contact with the driver. There is no need to yell “Taxi, Taxi” as the driver will not hear you from inside of the cab.
Only taxis whose sign on the roof is lit up, will stop. The ones that do not have their taxi light on are already taken. Also be careful when getting into the cab; don’t just walk across the street to reach the taxi. The Taxis in New York City will just stop, whether it is safe for you to approach or not, meaning sometimes you are left to cross a busy road before you can secure your seat in the back. Unless you absolutely have to sit in the front seat (i.e., all other seats are occupied), sit in the back seat. The passenger seat often holds the driver’s meal or personal belonging.
You’re in the back seat – what happens next?
Once you get inside the cab, say hello and take a second to settle down. Once you start moving and the meter has been started state your destination. Drivers usually don’t like to drive to other boroughs, for example Brooklyn or Queens. However, legally they still have to drive you there.
- Be as specific about your destination as possible. If you know the cross street – name it. This will make the driver’s job easier and you will reach your destination sooner and often more efficiently.
For most drivers silence is golden
In regards to this we can only speak from our own experiences. Almost all of our taxi rides have been quiet with no interaction (other than the necessary) with the driver. While most drivers are not interested in conversation, this is probably for the best as traffic on the streets of NYC demands full concentration. Also be sure to always wear a seat belt when you ride a Taxi in New York City – accidents involving taxis are not a rarity here since there is so many of them.
I have arrived at my destination: how do I pay?
Once you arrive at your destination, or sometimes shortly before you reach the address, it is time to settle up. The good thing about NYC is that every taxi accept credit cards and there is no minimum fare. To pay using your card, use the small screen in the back of the cab, which will guide you through the process and eventually ask you to swipe your card.
When it comes to giving a tip, we usually recommend 15%. The default options on the screen will usually show you 20%, 25% and 30%. And take note, while tipping a cab in NYC is customary, it is not mandatory either. Always exit a cab on the side facing the sidewalk, even if you have to slide across the back seat to the other side of the cab – safety first.
Don’t forget to take your receipt.
Once payment is completed, the driver will print out a receipt that we always recommend you take with you. A friend of ours left her wallet in a taxi once and because she had taken the receipt which showed the taxi’s medallion number, she was able to contact the driver and retrieve her valuables.
Taking a cab when its raining
You will most certainly be one of the lucky few if you manage to successfully hail a Taxi in New York City when it rains. The rule of thumb here: if it’s raining, the chances of getting a cab are basically nil. Your best bet would be to go somewhere that can call you a cab, outside of a high profile hotel for example.
How much is a ride?
Transportation by cab in New York is very affordable, but definitely takes longer than the subway, or a brisk walk if the distance is not too great. Why? Because traffic in the city is incredibly busy and traffic jams are a daily occurrence. If you are really in a hurry, you are better off looking for the nearest subway station than trying to hail a cab. If you would like to estimate a fate you can do so here: Fare Estimates.
Special situation: Airport transfers: watch out
Many tourists decide to take a cab from the airport to their New York hotel. Be sure that the driver is charging you the the airport “set fare” or “flat fare”. For transportation from JFK to Manhattan (as well as the return), a flat rate of $52 applies (the flat rate for LaGuardia-Manhattan is $17), plus tolls and $0.50 state tax. Then add approx. 15% tip. Depending on the location of your hotel, you can assume a cost of approx. $70. Unfortunately, there are always drivers who try to deceive tourists. If the driver will not give you a flat rate, then don’t get into the cab – make that perfectly clear from the start.
As you can see, taking a cab in New York can be exciting, especially as it is not an every day occurrence for many tourists. With these tips however, you are now well prepared for finding, hailing and safely getting to your destination in a NYC Yellow Cab.
I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!