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There are over half-a-dozen major on-demand ride hailing and ride sharing services in New York City. As of May 2016, Uber had at least 28,416 vehicles within NYC, followed by Lyft at 10,819, compared to the 13,370 medallion yellow cabs. Low cost providers have also emerged in the marketing place, led by Juno, with discounted fares up to 30% off. Each has thousands of vehicles on the road and no matter which service you select, a vehicle is most likely nearby.
All ride-hailing and ride-sharing drivers must be licensed by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), and meet strict insurance requirements. All drivers must undergo background checks, drug screening, fingerprinting and photos, and completed education requirements. Unlike in many other parts of the country (including neighboring New Jersey), all drivers must be licensed professionals to operate in NYC.
The primary difference between traditional medallion yellow taxis and the ride-hailing companies is the legal right to “street hail”. On-demand ride hailing companies like Uber must pick up passengers through prearranged trips, and are forbidden to pick up street hails. Green taxis operate similar to yellow in outer boroughs (also known as boro taxis), and street-hails are permitted. Green taxis are not permitted to pick up street-hails within Midtown and lower Manhattan.
Both medallion taxi and livery passengers are entitled to the rights included in the passenger's bill of rights including the right to pay by credit/debit, scent free air, a noise free trip, among others.
All three of New York City’s major airports (JFK, Laguardia, and Newark) permit ride-hailing pickups and drop offs. You may have to meet your driver at a designated area, as the traditional taxi lines and stands may be reserved for medallion cabs only. A message will likely pop up within the app directing riders to the designated pickup and drop off locations..
In NYC, the major ride-hailing companies have shaken up the industry by undercutting the taxi fares by about one third the cost in most cases. The exception is during periods of high demand - yellow taxis will never increase their price during periods of high demand (surge or primetime). In other words, when it's sunny Uber is likely cheaper than a taxi but when it's raining a taxi might be the cheaper option. The two leading providers, Uber and Lyft, frequently increase prices during rush hour, often between 8-930am and 5-7pm, and during inclement weather (known as “surge” or “prime time” fees). Surge pricing is also common on Friday and Saturday nights, particularly in trendy neighborhoods with busy nightlife scenes. Holidays, sporting events, concerts, parades and other festivities may also trigger surges. According to the TLC, apps used to book Black Cars that use price multipliers or surge pricing must be able to provide a total fare estimate, in dollars and cents, whenever surge pricing is in effect.
All the major ride-hailing companies do not accept cash, whereas yellow taxis and some traditional car services do permit, and often prefer, cash payments.
All the major ride-hailing companies will give you the first ride free or up to a certain amount off the first ride, as a promotion for new customers only.
Passengers are required to pay any tolls crossed, but are not liable for any toll costs incurred by the driver on the return trip (with the exception of medallion taxis). Most bridge and tunnel crossings (such as the Lincoln Tunnel or George Washington Bridge) only charge tolls for entering New York City. Ride-hail passengers need not reimburse their drivers with cash, or pay the toll attendant - it will automatically get added to your bill at the end of the ride. Drivers are required to use E-ZPass (an electronic toll payment system), and any discounts obtained through the program must be passed on to the passenger..
It is customary to tip a yellow cab driver in NYC (20% is the standard), and both Uber and Lyft allow for optional tipping via the app. There has been a lively debate in the past year about the ethics of tipping ride-hailing drivers.
If you are open to meeting new people, the ride sharing deals offered by Uber, Lyft, and VIA cannot be beat. They are the only three companies that offer pooled rides in NYC at this time. All three currently offer deep discounts within Manhattan during rush hour. This makes ride sharing comparable price wise to public transportation - it costs only a few dollars more than taking the train or bus. It is not uncommon to enjoy a private ride if the algorithms cannot match you with another rider on your route. In that case, you will still pay the shared ride price and will not be billed at the full rate. If you are matched with other riders (the max is typically 4), be a good member of the shared economy and be on time. Be courteous to fellow riders, and larger riders may want to purchase an extra seat..
Most medallion and ride-hailing vehicles in the City are current model mid-sized Toyotas. The Toyota Camry is the most popular, although Hyundais and other comparable mid-sized vehicles are gaining ground. Toyota Highlander is the most popular vehicle in the SUV class, and you'll also see plenty of Chevy Yukons and Suburbans on the roads too.
The requirements for vehicles in New York City are amongst the highest standards anywhere, and vehicles are not permitted to be older than 7 years old. The bill of rights gives passengers the right to ride in a car that is clean, in good condition, and has passed all required inspections: has working seat belts, heating, and air-conditioning.
All of the newer ride-hailing companies require a smart-phone with a US number, and major credit or debit card. It is currently not possible to request rides on a desktop computer, or by calling a human dispatcher. However, many of the traditional black car companies such as Carmel and its competitors will allow vehicles to be dispatched via phone call. All the major ride-hailing companies are currently rolling out the ability to pre-order a vehicle ahead of time. Yellow and Green cabs can be summoned via street hail, or electronically via apps such as Curb or Arro (providing a modern smart-phone experience to traditional taxis services). Many venues such as hotels and apartment buildings will have doormen and concierge facilities that are accustomed to hailing cabs for visitors. Venues such as airports, train stations, and stadiums will have designated taxi stands where medallioned drivers are permitted to make pickups.
Be strategic when choosing a location to pick up a ride. You will save money and time if the driver doesn't have to make a U-turn to pick you up or drop you off. Stand on a corner that is heading in the direction of your travels.
All licensed ride-hail vehicles in New York City must have a round blue sticker on the rear windows and on the windshield. Many will have Uber and Lyft signs behind the windshield, or hanging in the front passenger window. Your best method of identifying your specific ride-hailing driver is by referencing the plate number displayed in the app. Plate numbers will always start with the letter “T”, with the exception of vanity plates. It is not uncommon to find multiple ride-hailers on the same corner, all looking for their specific black Toyota Camry. Greet your driver by name, or confirm your name, to ensure you are in the right vehicle.
In many cases, it can be confusing to locate your vehicle, particularly when there are other ride-hailers nearby, and since most vehicles are black Toyota Camrys. It is a good idea to input a business name or visible landmark as your point of origin, for example, “Apple Store Fifth Avenue” vs. “767 Fifth Ave”. You may also call or text your driver and specify your precise location. Most people that have spent time in Manhattan generally specify their location by indicating the direction of the corner they are standing on, for example, the “northeast corner”. Buildings such as the Empire State Building or One World Trade Center act as a good compass, in addition to the one that's on your mobile device. Keep in mind that buildings such as Penn Station, Port Authority, and Grand Central span many blocks and have many entrances, so it's critical to specify an exact location. There you will find dedicated taxi stands of which ride hailing and ride sharing vehicles are excluded. Fortunately, you can get picked up or dropped off a few feet away, and the inconvenience is minor.
Both Uber and Lyft currently do not offer human operated phone support phone lines. They do however offer emergency hot lines for non support related issues. All support requests must be made by opening up a ticket through the mobile app, or by sending an email. Most ride-hailing companies are quite receptive to support inquiries via social media channels such as Twitter or Facebook.
Uber offers child seats for $10 per ride in NYC, and makes it easy for customers to request equipped vehicles through the app. None of the competitors at this time offer this convenience. Yellow taxis do not typically offer child seats. Traditional black car services are the best bet for parents that wish to reserve multiple child seats in advance.
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission manages a program that provides wheelchair-accessible yellow taxi dispatching services. Wheelchair-accessible yellow taxis will respond to trips originating in Manhattan and ending anywhere in the five boroughs, Westchester and Nassau counties, and the three regional airports. Passengers pay the normal metered taxi fare in New York City from the point of pick-up to destination. There are no extra costs to passengers. Accessible vehicles types include the ramp-equipped MV-1 and minivans. will be An accessible yellow cab may be summoned by calling 311, via the web, or using the Wheels on Wheels app on iOS. Within the Uber app, there is an option under “Uber T” labeled “WAV”, which will summon a wheelchair accessible yellow taxi. Lyft and the the other service providers in NYC currently do not support the ability to summon a wheelchair accessible vehicle. uberWAV is only available in New York City’s outer boroughs, including The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and in Manhattan above West 110 St and East 96th Street. Lyft does have an “accessibility mode” in some markets, but recommends you contact a list of partners that can accommodate handicapped passengers, 24 hours in advance.
Drivers of all accessible taxi cabs have been trained in boarding protocols and will assist the passenger. Law requires that all vehicles accommodate service animals, and drivers may be fined for refusing service. Accessible yellow taxis are also equipped with induction loops for hearing impaired riders.