Getting Around: New York City Taxi Tips

There are eight million stories in the naked city—and more than 13,605 taxi cabs, those for-hire autos known the world over by their canary-yellow hue. Here’s a quick look on how NYC taxis work: Everything a visitor needs to know before settling into the back seat.

• Cabs cruise city streets 24/7. Except at Grand Central Terminal, Port Authority, and Penn Station, there are no taxi stands in NYC.

• An illuminated medallion number on the rooftop indicates a cab is available. To hail it, simply extend or wave your arm—augmented, if you like, with a whistle or the shout “taxi!”

• Passengers can specify any destination within the five boroughs, Nassau and Westchester counties, or Newark Airport.

• When giving an address, it helps to tell the driver the cross streets (i.e., “27 W. 44th St., between 5th and 6th avenues”; “888 Madison Ave., between 71st and 72nd streets”).

• The iconic yellow cabs can pick up or drop passengers anywhere. The newer apple-green variety serves riders north of E. 96th and W. 110th sts in Manhattan and throughout the outer boroughs—The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

• The cab meter starts, or “drops” at $2.50. In addition to the length of the ride, the final fare also reflects:

• --a $.50 MTA state surcharge

• --a $.30 improvement surcharge

• --a $.50 surcharge from 8 PM-6 AM

• --a $1 surcharge from 4-8 PM

• --$2.50 congestion surcharge; as of February, 2019, this applies to trips south of 96th Street in Manhattan

• --any bridge or tunnel tolls

• Most cabs take up to four people. The fare is per ride, not per person. There is no extra charge for more than one passenger.

• There is no charge for luggage.

• You can pay the fare in cash or with a credit/debit card. There is no discount for coin, or surcharge for plastic.

• It’s customary to tip the driver. When using a credit or debit card, before you swipe, you can add a tip either by using one of the percentage buttons on the screen, or type in your own amount.

• Within the city, there are no flat-fee fares; every fare is metered, with the exception of trips from JFK Airport into Manhattan (currently a flat rate of $52, plus tolls and surcharges).

• Cabs can only be hailed on the street; they can’t be called or reserved in advance. If you prefer to have your transport booked ahead of time, consider using a private car company, such as Carmel Car & Limousine Service (212-666-6666,; for longer trips, to the airports, etc., as the cost is pretty competitive with the cabs’.

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