In some cities, for example in New York, taxis charge a toll at their doors. When the cab is moving faster than 9.6 mph, the meter runs past the clock and when it stops or moves less than 9.6 mph, the meter measures time. This method of calculating fares is standard in the United States and complies with federal standards for taximeters. In the evening (between 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM) and all day on a Sunday, there is a 50 percent additional charge. Luggage that a single passenger can carry is usually free, although some companies charge a fee.
In addition to what is displayed at the taxi counter, transit rates (trunk, bridge, ferry) and specific surcharges, such as a surcharge for one night or Sunday, may be charged. Special rates may apply to some destinations, and are generally posted on taxis. Taxi drivers expect a 15 percent tip and aren’t happy when it doesn’t show up (and they usually tell you!).
How to greet a taxi
To drive a taxi, simply raise your arm (no need to yell “Taxi!”). Taxis must stop if they are on duty and are usually indicated by a light on the ceiling, eg “on guard” (signs vary from city to city). A licensed taxi must take you anywhere within the city limits or your official area, and the driver cannot ask you about your destination before ascending and then refuse to pick you up (so don’t tell where you want to go until later your arrival). Most taxi drivers will not take you into dangerous areas at any time. Have the driver repeat the destination until you are sure you know where you want to go (although this does not guarantee that you will not get lost or take you elsewhere). In some areas, the law may prohibit the driver from leaving the taxi (for example, to help you carry luggage) as a safety measure. Passengers always ride in the back of a taxi (this is to protect the taxi driver, not the passenger).
There are unregulated radio taxis or “livery cars” in all towns and cities that can be hired only by prior arrangement. Some companies may not answer your phone call unless you already know about them. Some taxis are standard limousines and although the prices are usually higher than regulated taxis, they are generally clean, comfortable and air-conditioned. Limousines can be rented by the hour, day, week or month and are the best way to travel, as long as someone else pays or you are a millionaire. You should avoid “gypsy” or “pirate” taxis, especially at airports, because they are less than one meter, unregistered, unlicensed, uninsured and often fraudulent (worse than licensed taxi drivers) . If you are desperate and the only thing you can find is a pirate taxi, always agree on the fare in advance.
If you have a complaint about a taxi, write down the cab number displayed on the roof, the outside of the passenger door, the dashboard, or the rear of the front seat (or all four). Also note the driver’s license number (usually posted inside the cab, for example, on the rear or on the dash next to the driver) and the name of the taxi company. This information must be included on a receipt, which must be provided upon request.
This article is an excerpt from Living and Working in America. Click here to get a copy now.
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