Hey, welcome to NYC! Cabs are our lifeblood, but can seem intimidating to first-timers. Never fear, after reading our Cab Hailing 101, you’ll be flagging ‘em down like a pro.
- First things first: how do you know if a cab is on duty? Take a look at the rooftop – there’s a dashboard with the cab medallion and the words “off duty” to the right and left of the number.
- If the number in the middle is lit up, the cab is empty.
- If nothing is lit up, the cab’s full.
- If the whole thing or just “off duty” is lit, the cab’s off duty. On occasion an off duty cab may stop and ask you where you’re going, and if it’s on his way home, he’ll take you. This is the only time it’s ok to tell the driver where you’re going before you get in the cab.
(image via projectwedding)
- Be aggressive. Stand slightly away from the curb with your arm extended. Whistling or yelling, “Taxi!” is only done on T.V.
- Cab etiquette: it’s first come, first served, so try not to step in front of someone who’s been waiting longer than you. But hey, if you like to play dirty, take your chances.
- If you successfully hail a cab and the driver pulls over to ask where you’re going, don’t tell him (exception: see above). Just smile, get in the cab, shut the door, and THEN tell him you’re going to Brooklyn.
- Only four passengers are legally allowed in a cab. If you have more, take two cabs or look for a mini-van.
- The myth of NYC cabs taking a long route to rip off visitors is just that – a myth. Most cabbies are honest guys trying to make a decent living.
- Payment – cabs are now required by law to take credit cards, and there is a credit card machine in each cab.
- Additional surcharges – $1.00 between the hours of 5pm – 8pm, and $.50 after 8pm.
- Tipping – If you’re paying with cash, rounding up a dollar or two is standard (if a fare is, say, $9.50, it’s nice to give the driver $11 or $12). If you’re paying with a card, your options are 20%, 25%, or 30%. 20% is standard for an average trip; more if it’s long or an outer borough trip.
- Whatever you do, try not to take a pedi-cab.