If you don’t give a thought to that clicking box in that rides up front with the driver, or if you watch the meter obsessively, take our quiz to find out just how your taxi fares get calculated.
Just hailing and getting into a cab will cost you, even if you don’t go very far. In most U.S. cities, this charge will run you about $2.50.
Most cabs use meters to protect both the passenger and the driver, since meters provide an objective measure of the time and distance traveled.
If you know how taxi meters work, you’ll be able to protect yourself from the very few unscrupulous drivers out there.
Most taxi meters charge you for both the distance you travel and any time spent stuck in traffic.
Taxi meters use internal timers to charge passengers for time that passes while the cab is stuck in traffic.
A sensor on the cab’s transmission tells the meter the distance the cab has traveled. It works similar to a car’s odometer.
Both the distance sensor and the internal timer send electrical pulses to the meter so it can calculate the fare.
The sensors generally send pulses to the meter at a faster rate than the fare is calculated. For example, if a fare is calculated based on each 100 yards traveled, the pulses signal the meter at every yard.
Sending pulses at smaller intervals allows the meter to mix the pulses for time and distance to get the most accurate fare.
The meter mixes the pulses that it gets for both time and distance, so the driver is compensated for both.
It costs $.40 to travel four blocks, or one fifth of a mile (0.3 kilometers), in a New York City Cab.
It costs $.40 for one minute of idle time in a New York City Cab.
There’s no charge for extra passengers in a New York cab, but D.C. cabs charge an extra $1.50 for each additional passenger.
Most municipalities allow for cabs to add surcharges to fares if they leave the city limits.
The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission attaches a $.50 tax to all cab rides in the city.
A very few unethical cab drivers will pad the fares of unsuspecting people by taking the long way.
Know the general route you want to take is the best way to keep from falling victim to the “taking the long way” scam.
Drivers were entering more expensive fare codes into the meters – in some cases, they were charging people twice as much as they should have.
Most cities require that a full explanation of all fares be posted in the cab – check the description and you’ll have a general idea of how much you should be charged for a ride.
The best way to deal with the small minority of unethical cab drivers is to get the individual's driver's license information. It should be displayed in the cab. Use it to contact the city’s taxi commission.