The yellow taxi has earned its rightful place among iconic New York symbols – they’re abundant, work round-the-clock and – when you have somewhere to be in a hurry – can be the fastest way to get where you’re going. Taxicabs can also offer respite from city crowds. Getting around by taxi, though, is best done when armed with some essential tips and inside know-how.
Once you’ve successfully hailed a cab with the center light lit-up (no lights means the driver has a passenger; an Off-Duty lit-on-the-outside-dark-on-inside light means driver is not on shift), the meter will start at $2.50 plus a New York State Tax surcharge of .50, and every fifth of a mile costs .50. Expect a .50 surcharge after 8pm and before 6pm, plus a $1.00 weekday surcharge between the afternoon peak hours of 4–8pm.
Yellow taxicabs are regulated so fares are standard, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the meter. If within New York City limits the rate number on the meter should always read: 1. The flat fare to and from Manhattan to JFK International Airport is $52.00 and about $28.00 (plus tolls) to and from LaGuardia National Airport. You can pay with cash or a credit/debit card, with 20% of the total considered a standard tip for good service.
Drivers are obligated to take you to any destination in New York City. Things move pretty fast in New York, so buckle up on your ride and stay safe by always exiting curbside. While drivers are supposed to know city geography, it’s always good to know – in addition to the exact address – the cross streets and neighborhood where you’re headed. The hardest times to hail a cab are when it rains, during the daily 4–5pm-shift change and Fridays and Saturdays from 4–6am when clubs and bars are closing. If you are refused a ride, leave items behind in a cab or have a complaint about service, be sure to get the driver’s ID number and either call 311 or visit 311 online (nyc.gov/apps/311/) to submit a lost property claim or file a complaint.