If you’re new in town or not a resident of the Big Apple, utilizing one its many taxis can seem tricky. Things move fast in the city, so it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle-bustle if you aren’t familiar with local customs. Taxis, however, represent one of the most common and—with a few fellow passengers—affordable transportation options available. Here’s everything you need to know about New York City taxis.
You’ve seen it done on TV and in movies a thousand times before: hailing a cab is as simple as extending your arm as it approaches—right? Almost; you also have to pay attention to the service light on top of the vehicle. A cab is available when only the center indicator is lit. When both the cab number and “off-duty” lamps are illuminated, that means the cab’s not taking fares. If a driver already has a fare, all lights will be dimmed.
To increase your chances of being spotted, step off the street slightly as you hail (be safe!), and stand in a good spot where the driver can accommodate you. Lastly, make sure you’re on the side of the street where traffic’s headed in the direction you need to go.
A Few General Tips
While making use of taxis in NYC is not an overly complicated process, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Traditional medallion taxis (the yellow ones) in New York City cannot be requested in advance. If you’re not up for hailing your ride, you’ll need to rely on an alternate transportation service such as a livery cab or hired car service.
- Only up to four passengers are typically permitted in a standard-size taxi cab. Minivan-style vehicles may permit up to five individuals.
- Children seven years of age and under are permitted to sit on the lap of an adult passenger riding in the backseat of a cab.
- The front seat of a cab can be used by a passenger when the rear three seats are full, or when he or she is unable to access the backseat of the taxi.
Notes Regarding Fares
The distance you’re traveling is the biggest factor in what you’ll pay for a cab ride, but there are other factors which influence your final fare as well:
- All taxi rides in NYC are subject to a minimum fare (equivalent to one mile of travel) as well as a city tax surcharge.
- Incremental rates are applied each 1/5 mile when traveling over 6 MPH, or every two minutes when below this speed.
- Additional surcharges apply at night and during peak weekday periods.
- Passengers are on the hook for all road and bridge tolls (drivers are obligated to offer discounted E-Z Pass rates).
- You may pay via cash, credit or debit card and may decline to tip (15% is customary) in the event of poor service.
Remember, fares are not influenced by the number of bags or total passengers, so plan your city travels strategically and enjoy the savings!