Cabs are the famous, yellow NY trademark you see driving around. Base fare on cabs are $2.50. After that, you are charged 40 cents for every ⅕ of a mile (or approximately 1 uptown block), or every six minutes sitting in traffic (this happens a lot). There is also a peak weekday surcharge (4-8pm) of $1 and a nighttime surcharge of 50 cents (8pm-6am). This does not include tips for the driver. On the automated machine (remember, all cabs are REQUIRED to take credit cards) in the cab, they will give you tip suggestions, most of which start at $2 or 20%. Depending on your tipping style, this may seem ridiculous to you, especially if you are taking a cheap ride. Don’t worry, you can enter whatever tip you want to. They’re just hoping you don’t. When hailing a cab, yelling TAXI! is not necessary. Just stick your hand out whenever you see the middle light lit up on the cab. This may be easier said than done, as some have reported that the cab lights are super confusing. Here’s a quick guide:
1. If the off duty light is on, the cab is off duty. It won’t stop for you, save your arm energy and keep it down.
2. If the middle light is on (the one with the numbers and letters) the cab is available. Grab it!
3. If it’s off completely, someone beat you to it first and is currently taking a ride.
4. If both lights are on, the cab driver is picking up passengers at their discretion. In other words, if where you’re going is convenient for them, they’ll take you. If not, they’re leaving.
Best pieces of advice for cabs in NYC
1. Only use when you have to: This can include late night trips home, when you’re carrying too much stuff to take the train, or if you are super late and need to get there in a hurry (cabs are only faster sometimes though). Cab fare adds up, and is much more expensive than taking public transit
2. Know where you’re going: There are those drivers that can sense (or try to) when you are new in the city or a tourist and will take you a roundabout way that increases the fare. As you learn the streets better you will get more adept at this, but try to know ahead of time where the cab should be going.
3. Before you tell the driver where you are going, get IN the cab: As soon as it stops, open the door, get in, and then say where you’re going. This applies even if the driver tries to ask you before you get in. Often, during rush hour/peak times, cab drivers get very particular with where they want to go. In reality, they are not allowed to do this. So outsmart them and get in the cab like you’re hopping in a getaway car.. FAST!
Car Service aka Livery Cabs aka Gypsy Cabs
These are the black town cars that drive around, and sometimes try to stop for you when you’re hailing a yellow cab. You may have heard horror stories about these (people getting picked up and never being heard from again, or other less dramatic stories such as people getting ripped off), but they can actually do you some good.
First, as of now, street hails are illegal. This doesn’t stop people from hailing these cars. But because of that, the fares are not regulated. Best practice is to ask for the fare before you get in the cab, or at least before it starts moving.
Overall, these cars are best used in one of two situations:
1. You are outside of Manhattan, or in Upper Manhattan (yellow cabs are scared to go to these places)
2. You can’t find a yellow cab. Generally, they are more expensive than yellow cabs because they aren’t regulated and they can be. So if it’s pouring rain or you’re in a blizzard and you need a cab, suck it up and get in one of these.
You can also call ahead to any car company (i.e.- Carmel or Dial 7) and get a livery cab to pick you up at your location and take you to wherever you want to go. If you ever forget this, turn on NY1 for about 5 minutes and see the annoying commercials that will remind you.
Rental Car Services
One of the coolest things about living in the city are the subscription rental car services. You pay an annual fee (usually around 100$), and you then have access to a rental car whenever you need it. Large variety of cars, and prices are cheaper than going through your standard car rental company. Also, gas and insurance is included. You can rent a car for a few hours, or days. It’s amazing for trips to beaches that can’t be reached by subway, trips to Target (because you always buy more than you can carry, let’s be serious), or any other excursion that would be too hard on public transportation.
There are pros and cons to each, which are outlined here: http://nymag.com/shopping/tested/55311/
Best advice is to compare and contrast for yourself and pick which one works the best.