While the subway remains the cheapest and most efficient way to get around this city, for many visitors, taxis feel like a more private and safer option. So here are our tips for navigating New York's taxi system.
Know your taxis!
There are many types of cabs available in New York City... including private towncars, livery cabs, ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft, and even dollar vans. But the classic yellow taxi remains the most ubiquitous.
But there are also now the green taxis. The difference? Yellow taxis can take you anywhere in New York City. The green taxis, designed to better serve the outer boroughs, however, have certain restrictions... they cannot accept pickups in Manhattan below 110th St. on the West Side, and below 96th St. on the East Side, or at either LaGuardia or JFK airports. If you hail one in an outer borough, they are allowed to make dropoffs, though, in those areas.
Getting a taxi at the airport.
The most important rule of getting a taxi at the airport is to never accept a ride from someone inside the terminal, or outside, offering you a ride. These solicited services are illegal. For a safe & legal ride, get in the official taxi queue outside the terminal. The line may seem long, but often they move quickly. Taking a cab back to the airport? Cabs provide a flat-rate for this service.
(Side-note: Check traffic reports before you go. Public transit-- ie. the AirTrain-- may be the better option.)
Know your rights!
Passengers in NYC taxis have certain legal rights. Know yours, and you can protect yourself from unprofessional drivers. These include the ability to go anywhere in NYC that you request... a cab driver cannot legally refuse to take you to a destination once he has pulled over for you. You can also request a specific route or roads. You can also request the driver turn off a radio or turn on/off an AC, etc.
For the full Taxicab Passenger Bill of Rights, or to file a complaint, see their official website.
Tipping your driver is customary in the United States. Your average tip ranges from 15-20% of the final fare, depending on your satisfaction. If paying by credit card, most cab credit machine screens have an option to automatically add on the tip % you decide on, and provide you with a complete receipt.
How to hail a taxi!
We often see tourists with their hands out on the curb, attempting to hail a taxi, growing frustrated as numerous taxis pass them by without stopping. That driver is (probably) not ignoring you... he likely is either off-duty or already has a passenger. There is a very simple way to tell if a taxi is available: look to see that their light (the four-digit identifier code on the roof) is on. If yes, hail away. If no, keep an eye out for the next available one.
You are looking for this:
We hope this helps!