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NYC Yellow Cabs


How do i hail a cab?

  • While standing on the curb or in the street look for a cab which has its center light (cab #) on, indicating it is vacant and available.  Raise your arm to indicate to the driver you need a ride, and feel free to put it down if he flashes his lights at you.  He’s letting you know he sees you and will pull over to pick you up.
  • A cab is unavailable if the center light is off; indicating he already has someone inside, or if the top lights to the right and left of the center cab # are on. This indicates the driver is off duty.

Tip – Cabby’s change shifts at 4pm everyday making it the hardest time of the day to catch a ride. Should you see one with all roof lights on headed in the same direction your going, try to flag him down by motioning your going the same way he is. Most will pull over and pause to ask you where you’re headed, and should it be convenient for them, they’ll take you.

How do i pay for a cab? How much should i tip?

  • You can pay with cash or credit card as all NYC yellow cabs are equipped with GPS displays and are required to accept credit cards. (Don’t be annoyed if the driver gives you a little attitude when you use your credit card. It’s nothing personal. They don’t like that Mayor Bloomberg forced it on them and they have to pay a surcharge for each transaction).
  • Though the display will show you tips in a % form, most natives simply give $1-$2.

What else should I know?

  • Cabs are only legally allowed to carry a max of 4 passengers in a car, and 5 in a minivan. Should you have more people you’ll need to hail multiple cabs as most drivers won’t take the risk of a ticket to accommodate your 1 extra person.
  • While trying to hail a yellow, you may get approached by a non-yellow, usually town-caresque taxi. We usually refer to them as gypsy cabs.  Now Manhattan T&LC rules state that these cabs are only allowed to pick up a passenger, once called, at a predetermined location and drop them where requested, but most try to make extra money by picking up fairs along the way. Though you won’t get in trouble if you accept a ride with one (he will if a police officer sees it), they usually will only quote you or accept a higher rate for the ride than a typical yellow would. From my experience if I can negotiate a favorable rate, I’ll jump in. If I can’t, or I see other yellows around, I’ll just ignore them.


  • If you can’t find a cab, try a nearby hotel cab stand, or one at any major transportation hub such as Grand Central Station (42nd & Park Ave), Penn Station (32nd & 7th Ave), The Port Authority Bus Terminal (42nd & 8th Ave), South Ferry (most southern tip of Manhattan Island), or any ferry for that matter.
  • Cab Shares- In some residential areas in the morning, and commercial areas in the late afternoon, you’ll find a few poorly marked or make shift cab stands as well (try 79th & York Ave in the morning and South Ferry in the late afternoon). Usually a cab will fill up with people all going to the same general neighborhood and the passengers will split the fare.
  • When coming from LaGuardia or JFK Airports cabs must charge you a flat rate. Don’t be fooled into paying the meter. The best way to accomplish this is to wait in the cab stand line rather than try to hail a cab on your own. The stand captain will show you to a car and tell you how much the fare will be.

For more information than you’ve ever wanted to know about taxis, check out NYC.gov

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