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If you choose to use taxis, you will soon find that they are fairly expensive.  However, taxis are usually pretty fast during off-peak hours and beneficial if, at anytime, you need to cut across Manhattan (east or west). Subways generally do not run east-west routes except for the shuttle line near Times Square.  Some buses follow east-west routes.

To hail a taxi, just stand on the sidewalk right next to the street and raise your arm out over the street while looking at passing cabs. A lit number indicates an available cab. If you walk around New York streets for a few minutes, you will inevitably see some people hailing taxis. Always enter and exit the taxicab from the sidewalk side.

When you get in the cab and tell the driver your destination, he will start the meter at the $2 initial charge for the first fifth mile; each 1/5 mile after the first is 30 cents. It is 20 cents per minute in stopped or slow traffic. A 50-cent surcharge is added to rides begun between 8 PM and 6 AM. There is no charge for extra passengers (four passengers max by law). The meter will display the final fare after the driver hits some buttons and the meter makes a printing sound. Add in the driver's tip and pay in cash. Taxi drivers expect about a fifteen percent tip, just like restaurant tipping (i.e., if he curses at you, don't tip :-) ).

The taxi driver is REQUIRED to run the meter in order to charge you for your ride.


  • At airports, go to the transportation desk and get a cab rather than getting gypsy cabs outside. See this article about the dangers of gypsy cabs. Some airports or train stations will direct you to an outside taxi station. It is easy to spot legitimate cabs since they are yellow or orange-yellow with identification numbers painted on the doors. There will also be a patch-like medallion bolted into the passenger-side of the hood.

  • At Penn Station (a train station) and Newark Airport, go outside by following the taxi signs. Get in line for the taxis. There will usually be a uniformed attendant directing the flow of people to cabs.

  • There are flat rates for routes from Manhattan to most of the area airports (JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark - at least JFK has a flat fare for sure). The fares will be posted on the divider wall in the cab. Just "confirm" the rate when telling the driver your destination so that there will be no misunderstandings. Here is a page about fares from JFK to Manhattan.

  • You can also get private cars, almost always black Lincoln Towncars, to drive you to destinations. You have to call ahead to arrange a time for them to pick you up at your hotel. The rates are usually competitive with taxis for long distances. A good one that I feel comfortable recommending is Allstate Car and Limo. Their phone number is (212) 333-3333. A one-way trip from Lower Manhattan to Newark Airport is $32 plus tolls and tips or about $42.

Copyright 1998-2000 by Jonathan Sides
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