What makes a great cab driver in NYC

Do I have to whistle really loud to call a cab in NYC?

The media portrays New York as a city where you step out the door, whistle and take a taxi to the curb. I've seen so many people try to do just that. There are three main components: they need to see you, they need to register that you are a potential tariff, and they need to be able to stop to pick you up.

Make sure the taxi can see you. If you are in a large crowd, a driver may not be able to see you. Also, make sure you can see oncoming traffic, which means they should be able to see you. This may mean that you need to move to a better position. If a line of people tries to call cabs, go one block up the street so you see the first rate drivers.

Get the driver's attention. The whistle may not always work as drivers may not hear you. However, it will get other pedestrians' attention, which may not be what you want. Raising your arm or waving is another way to stand out from a ride. You can try "TAXI!" Eye contact is great too. All of this lets the drivers know that you are a potential tariff.

Be accessible. Try to find a spot where a taxi can go to the curb. This is safer for them and you, and you can avoid other cars honking their horns if you don't get into your cab fast enough. (Buildings with loading areas off the main entrance are ideal.) A taxi is less likely to stop briefly in busy traffic to pick you up if they are too likely to be in the back. Your fare is insufficient to cover the excess.

A great way to do all of this at once is to have a Taxi rank which is usually outside the major train stations and hotels (where there is also a higher demand for taxis).


It may be worth noting that it is considered a extremely To be considered rude to stand in front of someone who is already trying to call a cab. No one will object to someone a block away (and if you walk, that's fine), but if you're close enough to "reasonably" position yourself behind them, most New Yorkers will be from you expect and be angry if you don't. (Though they likely won't say anything about it or do anything; the town is too busy to stop for any annoying or rude stranger around you.)


To add one more thing, a lot of people don't realize that when the taxi lights are on it means they are picking up passengers, while when they are off they are not. I've seen a lot of people frantically waving cabs that passed with their lights off instead of focusing on finding ones with their lights on (in and out of New York).

Seth Robertson

@IllusiveBrian: Very true, I wanted to add this comment myself. The only change is that at least historically, taxis with flat fairings (e.g. from JFK) were still lit. Perhaps this has changed with the newer "smart" taxis. In this case, my advice is out of date.

James Kingsbery

"Go up one block so you will be the first fare driver" - I clearly saw someone trying to call a cab while standing there in the rain trying to get a cab My (then) 6 month old child in a stroller. Please don't be an idiot.