Everything You Need To Know About New York City Taxis

New York City Taxi
••• Heather Cross

Taxis (also called cabs) are a convenient way to get from place to place in the city. Surprisingly, they can be an affordable option when you have a group of people moving around together. They also offer the added convenience of avoiding waiting and bringing you right to your destination.

Hailing a New York City Taxi

Hailing a cab is as simple as stepping off the curb and holding out your arm—it only gets complicated when you need to figure out why many New York taxis seem to drive by without stopping for you.

The trick is in the lights atop the cab.

  • When just the center is lit, highlighting the medallion number, the cab is available.
  • When the medallion number, as well as the side lamps are lit, the cab is off-duty.
  • When no lights are lit, the cab already has a fare they are bringing to a destination.

New York City Taxi Passenger Limits

  • A maximum of four passengers can ride in traditional cabs, there are also some five passenger cabs that look more like minivans.
  • A child under 7 is allowed to sits on a passenger's lap in the rear seat in addition to the passenger limit.
  • A passenger is allowed to sit in the front seat with the driver when passengers have filled the rear or in the case of a passenger who cannot get into the rear of the cab.

What You Should Know About New York City Taxis

  • It is always more difficult to get a cab when it's raining—so sometimes it can be quicker (and you'll even get less drenched) if you head to the subway.
  • Riders are entitled to make multiple stops in a single cab ride, though the meter will continue to run throughout the trip and payment will be required at the end of the trip. There is no limit to the number of stops you can request.
  • New York City is unique in the fact that you cannot pre-arrange a pickup by a New York taxi. If you want to call for a ride (rather than hail a cab) you will need to contact a New York City car service.

    New York Taxi Fares

    • Minimum taxi fare is $2.50.
    • Additional charges are $0.50 per 1/5 of a mile (at or above 6 mph) or for 2 minutes of time stopped or traveling below 6 mph.
    • The night-time surcharge is $0.50 for rides beginning from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m.
    • The peak hour weekday surcharge is $1.00 and is charged for rides from 4 to 8 p.m. weekdays.
    • There is a $0.50 New York State tax surcharge.
    • There is no additional charge for luggage and no per passenger surcharge.
    • Any tolls during the ride are the responsibility of the passenger in addition to the metered fare.
    • If the driver uses E-ZPass to pay the fare (transponder on the front windshield) the passenger pays the reduced E-ZPass fare.
    • Flat fares from JFK to Manhattan are $52: there is no night surcharge and the meter does not need to be run.
    • There is a $17.50 surcharge for fares to Newark Airport, in addition to return tolls.
    • New York taxis accept payment by cash or credit card.

    New York Taxi Rider's Bill of Rights

    • As a taxi rider, you have the right to:
    • Direct the destination and route used;
    • Travel to any destination in the five boroughs of the City of New York;
    • A courteous, English-speaking driver who knows the streets in Manhattan and the way to major destinations in other boroughs;
    • A driver who knows and obeys all traffic laws;
    • Air-conditioning on demand;
    • A radio-free (silent) trip;
    • Smoke and incense-free air;
    • A clean passenger seat area;
    • A clean trunk
    • A driver who uses the horn only when necessary to warn of danger; and
    • Refuse to tip, if the above are not complied with.

    New York Taxi Complaints

    If you ever have any problems with a New York Taxi, call 311 or file a complaint online. New York taxi drivers are required to take you to any destination in the five boroughs. You might occasionally experience drivers who don't want to take you to destinations in Queens or Brooklyn, but you can probably get them to change their minds if you start to write down down their medallion number and call 311 on your cell phone.