How to Take a Cab in New York City

There's more to taking a taxi in New York City than hailing it down. You've got to know how to survive the ride.

You will need

  • Attentiveness
  • Some street savvy
  • Money for the fare
  • Knowledge of your rights

Step 1 Know where you’re going Before you hail a cab, get a rough idea of how far you’re going and how much it should cost. If you’re not sure, ask a New Yorker. Most will be happy to help you avoid getting ripped off by an unscrupulous cabbie.

Step 2 Step off the curb Step off the curb and face the oncoming traffic. Just don’t step so far off the curb that you’re standing in a lane of traffic.

Step 3 Hail a cab Hail a cab by raising your arm when you spot one with its middle roof light on, indicating it’s available. If no lights are on, it’s occupied. If the outer lights are on, it’s off duty. If it’s a livery car or limo—and not a real yellow cab—it’s not supposed to stop, so don’t get in.

Step 4 Avoid busy areas Don’t try to hail a cab just slightly in front of someone else with their arm out—it’s rude. If you’re in an area where lots of people are trying to get cabs, walk a few blocks to a less competitive location.

Step 5 Enter and exit on sidewalk Play it safe by always getting in—and out—of the cab on the same side as the sidewalk.

Step 6 Know your rights Know your rights. You have the right to tell the driver which route to take, you can ask him to slow down, and you are in control of the heat, AC, and radio. You are also entitled to be driven anywhere in the five boroughs.

Step 7 Buckle up Buckle up. Better safe then sorry.

Step 8 Watch the meter Watch the meter. When you hop in the cab, the fare starts at $2.50. The meter will increase 40 cents every fifth of a mile (approximately four blocks) or, if you’re standing still or crawling along slowly, once every minute. There is no extra charge for luggage.

Step 9 Know airport fares Know your airport fares. LaGuardia is a regular metered fare, but you’re also responsible for any tolls along the way. If you’re going from JFK to Manhattan, or vice versa, there’s a flat fare of $45 plus tolls. If you’re heading to Newark airport, there is an extra $15 charge plus return tolls to New York City.

Step 10 Pay the fare Pay the fare, and unless you had the worst ride of your life, add a nice tip: cab drivers work hard for the money. 10 to 20 percent tip is customary.

Step 11 Get a receipt Always get the receipt. It has the taxi’s medallion number on it, which will come in handy if you accidentally leave something in the cab.
And before you get out, take a last look around… inside and out.