Taxis, town cars, and ride share apps are a great way to get around New York City.
Though it’s not feasible to take cars everywhere in New York (dense traffic can make your commute longer than if you rode the subway, and car expenses can shoot sky high quickly), they can make life easier. I love taking a car when I’m head from one side of Central Park to the other. Cars are also a great way to get a break from the city when I’m feeling overwhelmed and don’t want to handle the subway. Thought the subway is super safe at night, I often take a car to get home when I’m too tired to deal with long waits for trains and underground drunken revelry.
If this is your first trip to NYC, you might want to ride in one of the omnipresent yellow cabs you’ve probably seen in TV shows and movies.
I prefer taking yellow cabs when I’m traveling crosstown in Manhattan and not near one of the very few crosstown subways.
Hailing a cab is pretty easy. You just need to step off the sidewalk and stick your hand up in the air. Don’t be offended if several cabs pass by you before one pulls over. You’ll want to find a taxi with its light on (the light signifies the driver doesn’t already have a fare inside).
When you get inside, you’ll notice a screen with the current fare. You can use this screen to pay by credit card at the end of the ride.
Yellow cab rates start at $2.50 and go up depending on how far you ride. But the majority of the time, if I’m only going 10 to 20 blocks or so, I end up paying around $10.
You’ll probably notice a few bright lime green cabs, similar to the yellow cabs. The green ones are the outer borough taxis. Some yellow cab drivers refuse to leave Manhattan for fear that they won’t get a fare back into the city.
Green cabs originate in the outer boroughs and will always take you into Manhattan or to another borough. They technically aren’t allowed to pick up passengers south of Harlem, but they often do anyway.
An alternative to taxis, town cars (also known as black cars) are a great way to get around the city. Yet unlike taxis, town cars aren’t allowed to pick up passengers hoping to hail a yellow or green cab.
If you want to take a town car, you must call the dispatcher.
These cars charge more affordable rates to and from the major airports (Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK). I always use Express 11 Car Services because they charge $34 to JFK and LaGuardia, not including tip.
Uber and Lyft
Uber and Lyft have been taking NYC by storm more recently, and they’re a great, low-budget option to taxi, town cars, and green cabs. If you live under a rock and haven’t heard of either, these apps connect town car drivers to riders.
Just download the app and input your credit card information.
You can have a driver pick you up based on your GPS location, or you can input an exact address. I like using an exact address because sometimes my GPS is off by a block or so (or more).
The driver takes you to whatever address you input through the app. This works out well because you know a fare estimate before you even get into the car. You also know that the driver isn’t trying to scam you by taking you on a wild goose chase throughout the city.
I like using the rideshare feature because it shaves off a few dollars from my total bill. You get paired up with another rider traveling nearby. If you’re not in a hurry, it works well.
Make sure to treat your drivers well. If you annoy too many drivers, it can affect your rating; if your rating is poor, drivers will refuse to pick you up.
Taxis, Town Cars and Lyft Tipping
Whether you’re using the yellow or green cabs or a town car, you’ll need to tip. Though tipping is not required in NYC, it’s definitely expected. You should always tip 18% to 20%. The only time you should tip less is if the service was horrendous.
Uber doesn’t encourage tipping. Lyft allows you to add a tip for your driver after your ride. You should always leave your driver at least 15% because most drivers rely on tips to get by.
By no means should you ever use taxis, town cars, and Lyft as your primary means of transportation in the city. Yet travelling by car can help ease stress and give you a much needed break from the chaos that NYC is known for.
Utilizing cars in conjunction with other methods of travel is one of the best ways to get the most out of the city.