New York City is served by a fleet of over 10,000 taxi cabs. These taxi cabs are easily identifiable as they are painted yellow and distinctly stand out amongst the many cars that traverse the city’s busy and congested streets.
New York City cabs are flagged down by sticking your arm out. Each taxi cab has a sign board on its roof that indicates is own unique number. When the cab is “unoccupied” this sign is usually illuminated so that it can be viewed from a distance. This system makes it easy for a rider to flag down a cab. When a cab is occupied this indicator is usually switched off. If the cab is ‘off duty’ during a shift change the sign that indicates the number is illuminated along with two side panels that indicate that the taxi cab is currently “off duty” and should not be flagged as it will not stop. You cannot call a taxi to pick up at a certain time or place, they can only be flagged down on the street. For designated pick-ups, see below.
Taxi cabs in New York City operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week but can be extremely difficult to find on a rainy or snowy day. These yellow cabs are licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and if you have any problem with your taxi service you can make a complaint to the TLC. In recent times the TLC has instituted several initiatives to make the New York City taxi cab service better and more eco friendly by introducing hybrid vehicles and also introducing an accessible dispatch service whereby a disabled passenger can call the New York City information call center 311 to request a cab.
Taxis in New York City can be quite expensive if you are a single passenger riding a cab but they can make economic sense when there are three people riding together. New York City taxi cabs used to operate on a cash only basis but now are equipped with consoles that accept Credit and Debit cards. The New York City authorities have instituted fixed taxi fare of $45 from JFK airport to any destination in Manhattan. This $45 flat fare excludes tolls and tips. It is customary to tip the driver 10% of the fare from the airport.
The current New York City Taxi cab fares consist of:
Initial base fare………….$2.50
Each 1/5 mile (4 blocks) an additional….$0.40
Each 1 minute spent idling…….$0.40
Peak hour surcharge………..$1.00 (after 4pm until 8pm Mon-Fri)
Nighttime surcharge……….$0.50 (after 8pm until 6am)
Tolls……………….. depending on each toll extra charge
Most New York City taxi cabs are driven by immigrant drivers but they all speak and understand English.
Aside from these yellow taxis the Taxi and Limousine commission also provides licenses to many car services that operate in and round the city. These car services usually have a fleet of black Lincoln town cars. A list of licensed car services is available on the website of the TLC. (http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/tlc/html/current/current_licensees.shtml). These car services are more expensive than ordinary taxi cabs but can be used for designated pick-ups and drop-offs in and around the city.