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New York City Yellow Taxi Cab vs. Uber and Lyft

 Nowadays people tend to default to Uber or Lyft or other share rides rather than take a taxi in New York City. I was like this when I first moved to New York. 

I was too millennial to ever ride the taxi. I felt taxis were antiquated and that share rides were a way of embracing progress and ultimately the future. That was a little naive to automatically conclude when I had never ridden a New York City taxi

But after living in New York for a few years, I've come to realize that taxis are not as irrelevant as one might think. Especially now that there's an app, That's very similar to the technology that Lyft and Uber use.

There are situations where taxis are better to take over Lyft and Uber and there are times when it's the opposite. Things to consider are pricing and convenience. 

For example, taxis don't have surge pricing the way Uber and Lyft do. So, in this post. we are going to talk about the general rules of thumb of when is it better to take a taxi and when is it better to take a shared ride like Lyft or Uber. 

And at the end of this post, I'll also talk a little bit about the taxi industry and how it relates to sharing rides like Lyft and Uber, 

New York City Yellow Taxi Cab vs. Uber and Lyft
NYC Yellow Taxi vs. Uber and Lyft

But first, welcome to my post. We are reading Which is a better ride in NYC? where we talk about urban life and culture and basically surviving the urban jungle. 

If you are new to, I invite you to subscribe. Assures you that you won't miss a future post and also don't forget to comment this post And if you want a full guide on Which is the best taxi service company in the USA? 

I've written an entire post, on that topic. So, when is it better to take a taxi over a lifetime Uber and another way around? 

I'm going to list my general rules of thumb here.


Please know that these are not engraved in stone. It's always worth checking the prices when you can also every city is different. The taxi world is going to be different in New York than it is in Las Vegas or San Francisco

And so your taxi experiences will differ from city to city one scenario when it's better to take a taxi over share ride is when you are traveling short distances. 

Have you ever tried calling a Lyft or Uber when you're only traveling 10 blocks?

First of all, you might be thinking? Why not just walk these 10 blocks, That's about 10 to 15 minutes which is not a bad walk in New York and I would say that too if it weren't so cold that your snot's turning to icicles. 

Yeah, New York gets pretty cold some months. So, I tried that once calling a Lyft

Because it was just way too cold and the subway. Was just not reachable with your average human effort. So, first I had to wait five minutes for my Lyft ride to just even be in my vicinity, and then our stars couldn't align 

And he couldn't find me. So, we had to do the whole phone tag thing that was another five minutes and by then there's justice crystals in my blood. What killed me the most is that the amount of time it took me from ordering Lyft even getting in the car. 

There were probably several taxis that drove by and I could have easily hailed one. I probably would have gotten to my destination half the time 

But no I was way too millennial for any of that, On the flip side, a time that you might want to take a shared ride is if you're traveling a longer distance.

The reason behind this is based on the predictability of costs. I find that the price that Uber gives me at the beginning of my rides stays the same despite unexpected traffic or any delays in my trip. 

There comes a time, every New Yorker's life where they will be struck by unexpected oppressive traffic.

You will never know when this time comes, but it is a prophecy destined to happen. Like a motorcade that appears from nowhere and causes all traffic to stop in all directions for about half an hour (True story)

And this happened to me a 10-minute ride ended up being 45 minutes long And because Murphy was having a rollback date on the way back in an Uber. I hit the same motorcade So a 30-minute errand turned out to be a two-hour extravaganza whit traffic delays. like that riding, a taxi would have charged me the entire time. 

We were idle during that motorcade, But since I was riding an Uber that wasn't the case. So, what do I mean by short and long distances? 

Short distances are about less than a mile. 

Maybe a mile and a half Anything for two or more miles. I recommend taking a shared ride.

  • Taxi - Short Distances
  • Uber/Lyft - Long Distances

Travel in Manhattan / Brooklyn / Queens

This brings me to the second instance when it's generally better to take a taxi and that's if you're traveling within Manhattan, Even though Brooklyn and Queens are gentrifying rapidly. 

There's something in the area that makes Brooklyn and Queens. One of the contributing elements to this is the fact that Yellow Cabs are not hiding out in the bushes in these boroughs. Manhattan is the watering hole for these yellow cabs and you won't find many of them in the outer boroughs.

That's why when you're traveling within the confines of Manhattan, especially below upper Manhattan. It's far more convenient to take a taxi, 

That is if you don't want to walk or take public transit, but if you want to take public transit like the bus or the subway or the ferry.

Also from my understanding and if your taxi driver corrects me if I'm wrong, is that taxi drivers prefer to stay within Manhattan. Maybe an exception to this is the airport rides because when you're picking up and dropping off a passenger in Manhattan chances are you're gonna get another passenger right away. Whereas if you drop off a passenger in the outer boroughs, 

you might not get a passenger on your way back into the city. By the way, some local lingo for you New Yorkers call Manhattan this city. 

It's because of this infrequency that inner borough travel would most likely mean you would have to order a ride rather than hail one off the street. At that point, a taxi is no longer different than a Lyft or Uber.

  • Taxi - Within Manhattan
  • Uber / Lyft - To/From/Within Outer Boroughs

You Can Also Read: What Is An Affiliate Marketing?

Prices are Surging

Except that like I said earlier pricing would be a lot more predictable Unless prices are surging. One thing is a taxis over share rides like Lyft and Uber is that they don't have search pricing. Well, they do but it's very minimal.

  • 4-8 pm* +$1
  • 8 pm - 6 am +$0.50

But sometimes these share rides will have promos. 

Curb, The app you use in conjunction with riding taxis also has promos, but not as often as Lyft or Uber. 

Some of the most popular trips that both taxis and share rides, take are To and From the airports. 

New York is served by three commercial airports, JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark. 

  • Taxi = JFK Airport (to Manhattan), LGA Airport (close distances & surge pricing)
  • Uber/Lyft = EWR Airport

Of course, there are cheaper ways to get to and from these airports other than taxis and share rides like Lyft and Uber and that is through public transportation. 

When it comes to traveling from JFK Airport into Manhattan a taxi might be a good choice. Because JFK to anywhere in Manhattan has a flat rate of $52 granted you have to add tax fees and tips.

But even so, the total might still be better than taking a Lyft or  Uber. As for LaGuardia taxis, there do not offer a flat rate, But many times when I'm at the airport, surge pricing takes into effect because of the odd hours, the rush hour, and the high demand for Lyft and Uber and other share rides in the airport. 

An experience I had not too long ago is when I was at LaGuardia trying to get an Uber, home and normally a trip from LaGuardia Airport to where I live is about $30 to $35.

And that night, Uber was charging a whopping $65 and that's when I learned that a taxi ride from the airport to my home was only $20 If you noticed that prices are surging when you're in LaGuardia Airport or any airport for that matter. You might want to check on taxis. 

Also, consider where you're going from LaGuardia, remember that LaGuardia is a stone's throw away from Manhattan. Its already in Queens Because remember like I said sometimes 

If the distance is short enough, you might want to consider taking a taxi and when it comes to convenience. 

There are official taxi lines at the airport because sometimes when it's very busy, it's hard to sync up with your Lyft or Uber driver. 

As for Newark, Newark Airport is in New Jersey. There's going to be a guaranteed toll fee since you are crossing state borders into New York.

It doesn't matter if you take a taxi a Lyft and Uber the Tollgates do not discriminate 

But when it comes to a cab on top of the base fair toll and tip, there's an additional $17.50 surcharge. I don't know about you, but that $17.50 surcharge is already enough for me to lean towards Lyft or Uber. 

And lastly, I want to call out the state of the taxi industry today for some context. There's a set amount of taxis that can operate within New York at any given time to operate a taxi. You need a medallion 

And this is basically a permit. So, that you can pick up passengers off the streets and this is not exclusive to New York. 

Other cities use the medallion system and I can write posts on just the taxi medallion And if this is something that interests you let me know in the comments below. 

Anyway, these medallions are either bought or auctioned off. So, with that in mind about 15 years ago, there was an inflation in the price of these taxi medallions but not just in New York other cities experienced this we're talking Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, etc. 

And to give you an idea of how insane the inflation was in Chicago. A $50,000 medallion, started costing close to $400,000. This was absurd and this had a lot to do with investors, Trying to take advantage of the system. 

So, with these inflated prices these taxi medallion owners found themselves heavy into debt banking on the fact that the taxi industry is going to be a solid one for years to come 

But as we all know Lyft and Uber came into play and it just disrupted the way we do semi-private transportation. The taxi industry couldn't be involved fast enough to compete with the innovations of shared rides like Lyft and Uber. 

And spoiler alert the taxi industry started to decline with the emergence of shared rides like Lyft and Uber these taxis medallion owners found themselves in a tight spot,

Because the value of a medallion suddenly plummeted. We're talking like a million-dollar medallion in New York City costing only $75,000 to $100,000.

This situation was so dire that there were even some taxi owners who took their own lives. Personally, I like to support the local community and small businesses, so I try to take a taxi as often as I can when I can.

And in New York, I find a lot of situations. There are taxis tend to be cheaper than share rides like Lyft and Uber, 

Of course, taxis and shared rides are only two options of the many options of transportation in New York City. 

My preferred way is still the subway in buses.

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