Taxicabs in New York City have meters that register what the passenger has to pay in four different ways:
1) The first drop. You sit down, tell the driver where you want to go, he pushes a button on the meter and that is the first drop. It's currently $2.50.
2) The distance traveled - 40 cents for each fifth of a mile, which comes out to two dollars per mile.
3) Any surcharges. This is a separate amount added on at the end of the ride. There are two surcharges: one dollar if you get in a cab during the evening rush hours (4 to 8 PM, Monday through Friday), and 50 cents if you get in a cab from 8 PM to 6 AM (the "night charge").
4) The clock.
This post is about the clock. This is a charge for time sitting still or when moving very slowly. We just had a rate increase for the clock on Nov. 30th - the first time there has been such an increase in SEVENTEEN YEARS! It had been 40 cents for each two minutes. Now it has doubled to 40 cents for one minute. The last two rate hikes, in 2004 and 1996, raised the prices for the distance traveled and the first drop only. You actually have to go all the way back to January of 1990 since the waiting time was increased.
I had been telling people that the best deal in NYC was to get in a taxi and then don't go anywhere.
The city agency which makes up the rules and sets the rates for the city's 13,087 taxis is the Taxi and Limousine Commission. This agency has had a history of keeping taxi rates in NYC relatively inexpensive, usually much cheaper than in other U.S. cities. It also has a track record of ignoring the need for cost-of-living increases by letting huge chunks of time go by between rate hikes (like eight years) and then, when the rates are finally raised, to hit the public with a whopping increase (like 30 per cent) which pisses everyone off. By anyone's standards, this would be called "bad management".
Now we get a modest increase (the average ride will only cost about 10 per cent more) after only two and a half years since the last one. The public will hardly notice it and the drivers will be able to keep up with the cost of living, at least for awhile. Plus, taxi owners were not permitted to raise their leasing fees, which means the money goes directly into the pockets of the drivers.
It could almost give you the idea that the Taxi and Limousine Commission is showing signs of competence and fairness.