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The Taxi-Taker’s Crib Sheet

Frequent riders’ and veteran cabbies’ rules for navigating the city.

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Two times, other than rush hour, when you should just take the subway:

4 to 5 p.m., during the shift change
“There could be a $25 late charge if we’re not back to the garage in time.” —Marcus Olaleye, driver

4 to 6 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays
“There’s a surge of people leaving the clubs, it’s the morning shift change at 5 a.m., and many day drivers take the weekends off, so the normal number of cabs hitting the streets is reduced.” —Eugene Salomon, driver and blogger (Cabs Are for Kissing, Pictures From a Taxi)


Ten places you can always hail a taxi:

Clinton Street
“It’s the main thoroughfare—a driver coming from anywhere in Brooklyn will go there because it’s easy to get down and you can make the left onto Atlantic to get to Manhattan.” —John ­McDonagh, driver and blogger (Hack Shots of New York)

Lexington Avenue and East 28th Street near Curry in a Hurry
“It’s popular with cabbies; you can usually catch one who just finished a meal break.”

Bergen Street
“There’s a garage here between Third and Fourth Avenues in Brooklyn, so it’s a good catch-out point all the way through to Smith Street.” —Gil Alvineri, driver and blogger (Taxicab and Shoestring, Tips for NYC Taxi Drivers)

East 1st Street and First Avenue near Punjabi Deli
“Cabbies come here because they let them use the bathroom. Plus, it’s 24 hours.” —Melissa Plaut, part-time cabdriver and author of Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do With My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab

By the four Free Bridges
“You can always find a cab where they touch ground: For the 59th Street Bridge, 59th and Second Avenue or 63rd and Second Avenue; for the Williamsburg Bridge, Delancey Street between Norfolk and Allen Streets; for the Manhattan Bridge, Canal and Bowery or Canal and Chrystie; and for the Brooklyn Bridge, Centre and Chambers.” —Salomon

West 14th Street and Ninth Avenue
“There are always people from the bars here. It’s easy to circle around until you get a fare.” —Hasan Khondoker, driver


Where to grab a cab going uptown during the morning rush:

Fifth Avenue
“From 8 a.m. to noon, everyone downtown is trying to go uptown and they’re all looking on the uptown streets. Those cabs are already taken. But after they drop off, they fly down Fifth to get back to the Village for their next fare.” —McDonagh


Two ways to get a ride during shift change:

Head to a gas station
“The biggest one in Manhattan is the Hess station at 45th and Tenth. There are others on Tenth Avenue, at 24th and 36th Streets. Also: Houston and Lafayette, 96th and First Avenue, 96th between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive, 110th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard.” —Salomon

Offer a big tip up front
“I’ve gotten cabs at 4 p.m. in the rain by taking $20 out of my pocket, waving it at a driver, and mouthing the word tip.” —Ron Wood, passenger


How to get a taxi on the busiest nights of the year:

Get a number
“On New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween, I talk up any and every cabdriver I meet and ask if they’d be willing to pick me up later that night. You’d be surprised how many have business cards or will exchange numbers with you, and nine out of ten times, they show up for the return trip.” —Sara Glassman, passenger


How to get a cab to take you to a far-flung place:

Go for the stomach
“I once sweet-talked a cabbie into driving me to Staten Island by offering to buy her food along the way at a McDonald’s drive-through.” —Steven Lowell, passenger

Talk in intervals
“I say, ‘It’s just over the Williamsburg Bridge, and then I can direct you from there.’ It makes the trek seem less like an odyssey.” —Natalie Guevara, passenger and Bedford-Stuyvesant resident


How to catch a cab in the rain:

Find a hotel
“I tip the doorman—doesn’t everyone? I note the name on his tag and greet him warmly, as if he should know me. Since most people only tip a buck or two, holding a clearly visible five works even better.” —Barry Maher, passenger


Three topics cabbies like talking about:
According to Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion Financial Corp

The weather
“It’s a great icebreaker and noncontroversial.”

The business
“They frequently say how hard the job is. Don’t get me wrong—it is a very hard job—but they like pity. They think it will lead to bigger tips.”

Their lives before they were drivers
“A lot of these guys have stories to tell. You hear how they came to America and how much they have had to overcome in their homelands to get here. According to them, they were all rocket scientists or brain surgeons back home.”


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