Educate yourself in the art of advanced cabbery.
This is a bit of a self-serving post. This past weekend, I was in New York City for Governor’s Ball Music Festival. (Great time by the way, I’ve added a playlist of all my favorite songs from the weekend at the bottom)
I’m not as familiar with NYC’s streets as I am with DC, so naturally, every time I got in a cab, I was skeptical of my initial cab fares, the route I was taking, and whether or not the cabbie was going to lock the doors and pull a Bone Collector on me.
At the same time, if you’re like me when you travel, doing your best to avoid transportation costs so you can spend more of your hard earned cash on experiencing, rather than moving, always remains a top priority.
Even in my own city of Washington DC, I am always weary of the practice’s of cab drivers. “Wait, is he supposed to click the ‘increase fare’ button 17 times?” I also understand their business. The more time they have butts in their seats, the more money they make. In most major cities, those butts happen to be tourist butts. This is an advantageous situation for our friendly yellow cab driver.
Mr./Mrs. cab driver, I respect the hustle. But guess what? I know when you’ve driven me around my OWN block three times that we’ve got some problems, and I also know that when you’ve charged me $6.00 before we’ve even taken this beautiful Crown Victoria out of park, that your hustle has overstepped my boundaries.
So, I decided to do a bit of homework so you can understand the laws in your city.
First, a list of taxi cab commissions (arranged in order of the # of readers per city of There Are No Roads)
Fares are structured accordingly across the board:
1. Initial Fare, or what some states/cities call the ‘Flag Drop’ or ‘Pick-up Rate’ – This is the price that will show up before you’ve even left the curb. Each city has a certain fare & distance. For example, in DC, you will be charged $3.00 for the first 1/8th of a mile. Any fare higher than a $3.00 start is illegal. In NYC, you’ll be charged $2.50 upon entry, for 1/6th of a mile, or after 60 seconds without moving.
2. Each Additional Mile: This is the increase in price. The rate will increase every time the cab moves an additional X distance. This distance is the same as the Flag Drop distance, i.e., the rate will increase $.27 for each additional 1/8th of a mile in DC
3. Additional Passengers – Some cities will charge extra for each additional passenger (Bet you didn’t know that in DC, additional passengers are only supposed to be charged FOR VANS ONLYaka, we’ve been getting cheated every Friday night that we’re not rolling around in a Ford Windstar)
4. Hourly Hire Rate – In a tourist city like DC, you can have a cab driver tour you around for a maximum of $25, meaning that your taxi ride within city limits cannot exceed $25 for 1 hour!
5. Peak Hour Rates - Fares have different codes. For example, between 4pm and 8pm and after 10pm in NYC are considered peak hours when you’ll get charged an extra $1.00 on your initial fare
6. Other Rates – Check out your local taxi commission. Some have set rates for airport rides, hourly rates, and other peak hour/off-peak pricing.
The key is to be familiar with each fare, so you don’t get scammed. Now, I’m not saying that you should be getting in arguments every time that you’re in a cab and you’re being overcharged, but I am saying, pick your battles – if you’re getting abused by being driven in circles at a different fare rate, you can always ask about the fare, and exit the cab if need be.
Also, this is an obvious one, but, turn on your smartphone GPS in advance to make sure they’re not egregiously straying from the normal route.
Lastly, this isn’t meant to bash all drivers. Not all cabbies are bad cabbies. In fact, most aren’t. But it’s always helpful to be aware of the potential of some bad eggs.
Also, I found the blog of a local DC taxi driver here: (Warning, it contains sentences like, “For some of you retards who is on budget, I found this cab fare calculator application the most accurate for your cab ride.”) Eloquent. -Diary of a Mad DC Cabbie
Travel safely, my friends,
Want more practical knowledge? Check this out: Three Little Known Websites That You’ll Wish You Had Found Earlier. (For Knowledge & Productivity)