New York Taxi

Hailing and riding in a cab are rites of passage in New York – especially when you get a driver who’s a neurotic speed demon, which is often. Still, most taxis in NYC are clean and, compared to those in many international cities, pretty cheap.

The Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC; 311), the taxis’ governing body, has set fares for rides (which can be paid with credit or debit card). It’s $2.50 for the initial charge (first one-fifth of a mile), 40¢ each additional one-fifth mile as well as per 120 seconds of being stopped in traffic, $1 peak surcharge (weekdays 4pm to 8pm), and a 50¢ night surcharge (8pm to 6am). Tips are expected to be 10% to 15%, but give less if you feel in any way mistreated – and be sure to ask for a receipt and use it to note the driver’s license number. The TLC have a set fare of $45.00 for a ride between JFK airport and Manhattan, plus tolls. This does not apply from JFK to destinations off Manhattan Island. A $15.00 surcharge applies to Newark airport on top of the regular metered fare. No set fare or surcharge applies from LaGuardia, just go by the normal metered rate.

The TLC keeps a Passenger’s Bill of Rights, which gives you the right to tell the driver which route you’d like to take, or ask your driver to stop smoking or turn off an annoying radio station. Also, the driver does not have the right to refuse you a ride based on where you are going.

To hail a cab, it must have a lit light on its roof. It’s particularly difficult to score a taxi in the rain, at rush hour and around 4pm, when many drivers end their shifts.

Privately run car services make up a common taxicab alternative in the outer boroughs. Fares differ depending on the neighborhood and length of ride, and must be determined beforehand, as they have no meters. Though these ‘black cars’ are quite common in Brooklyn and Queens, you should never get into one if a driver simply stops to offer you a ride – no matter what borough you’re in. A couple of car services in Brooklyn include Northside (718-387-2222; 207 Bedford Ave) in Williamsburg, and Arecibo (718-783-6465; 170 Fifth Ave at Lincoln Pl) in Park Slope.
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