Wednesday, April 14, 2010
How A Cabbie Would Catch a Cab
When you need to hail a cab, please first lookout for on-duty taxis that are standing still, next to the sidewalk. These are often cabbies (such as myself) who are patiently waiting for their next fare in a manner that reduces gasoline waste and traffic congestion. As long as the off-duty lights are not lit , their temporary idle does not mean they are taking a break, nor are they less competent than the taxis that are cruising by.
Another important step to take when hailing a cab is to find the best spot for a cab to pull over. If possible, stand on a stretch of sidewalk that does not contain parked cars. Bus stops are OK, as long as you can make it quick. Fire hydrants, no standing, and no parking zones are great spots. No stopping zones are not. If you feel compelled to step into a lane of traffic in order to hail a cab, please step back unto the sidewalk as a cab pulls over, in order to allow/lure it to pull in as far from the flow of traffic as possible.
Never get into a cab that dangerously crosses multiple lanes to stop for you, unless they did so carefully (with consideration for other drivers). Never get into a cab that stops at such an angle that it takes up multiple lanes of traffic to let you in. This should serve as a red flag for poor service.
Only hail a cab from the street corner if you need it to make an immediate turn as it picks you up. Even then, you should make your intentions clear through hand gestures and allow/demand the driver to (complete that turn and) stop neatly (flush against a sidewalk) before you get in.
Follow these same procedures when requesting the driver to drop you off at your destination. Why do these things matter? Because not only are they safety precautions, but they alleviate congestion. If you don't like sitting in traffic during a cab ride, please don't help create it.
Between 330 and 5 PM every single day, there are special ways to catch a cab, and you must be in tune with them if you want to stand a chance. During this time we are switching from day to night shift. Most of us have our off-duty lights on and are headed back to our bases (garages). Most of them are located just over the 59th Street bridge in Queens, or just over the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn. As we make our way toward these garages, our doors are locked and your only hope of jumping in is if your destination is on our way there.
If you wish to travel uptown, you MUST plant yourself on First, Third, Madison, Sixth, Eighth, or Tenth Avenue. If you wish to go downtown, you must hail on Second, Lexington, Fifth, Seventh, or Ninth. Same thing goes for crosstown trips. If a cab slows down and rolls down the window, please audibly (loud) and concisely call out your destination. You can attempt this at a red light as well. If the cab continues on without you, do not take it personal.
We absolutely cannot be late to our garages, or else we pay a hefty fine and piss off the night driver (by ruining the lucrativeness of their shift). This is the only part of our shift that we are allowed to inquire about your destination, therefore it is not considered “refusal”, as many people mistakenly assume. They scream at us, threaten us, and throw kicks and punches at our cabs. The more people do this, the less we'll be inclined to bother slowing down and/or rolling down our windows at the end of our shift. Imagine if non of us negotiated with the public at this critical (rush hour) time. Everyone would be shit out of luck for a cab. I've even offered to take folks for free, as long as it's on my way home. So why should angry mobs accuse me of refusing them service? Spoiled brats!