It’s 5:30PM. You’re standing on the corner of 30th Street and 6th Avenue. The heavy gray rain is pounding on your disappointing dollar store umbrella, and yellow cabs splash down the street in a wild, disgusting chaos. And no one is stopping for you.
Finally, a cab with a light on! It slows to a muddy stop, and you try the handle. Locked. Confused, you see the driver’s window roll down and hear “Where?” Before you can get to the second letter of “Brooklyn,” the car is gone.
But before you retreat into your next NYC rainy meltdown, take down these 5 tips and TAKE ACTION! Don’t let this happen again. Changing NYC taxi behavior begins now, and it begins with you.
1. “Where are you going?”
It is against the law for any driver to refuse a trip to you based on destination as long as it is within the 5 boroughs. Therefore, regardless of your answer, the question is OUT OF THE QUESTION unless the driver is asking if you are leaving New York City (again, all 5 boroughs are fair game).
2. “I don’t know where that is.”
It is against the law for any driver to refuse a trip to you because they don’t know how to get there. Not only is it THEIR JOB, but they are REQUIRED BY LAW to know the “lay of the land” of the New York City area. They must have a map available if they are unsure, and cannot refuse service to you as long as the destination is within the five boroughs.
3. Cash-only policies.
It is against the law for any driver to refuse to let you use your credit or debit card as payment. They are required to accept American Express, MasterCard, VISA and Discover (and some will accept the JCB Card) for all fares, regardless of the amount. If the driver insists that his system is broken, make sure you report it. Drivers are required to report broken systems and only allowed to continue driving with them for a maximum of 48 hours after the report. 90% of repairs are completed within 6 hours, so definitely be wary of such a claim.
4. “One stop only.”
Drivers are not permitted to refuse passengers with more than one stop. There is no limit to how many stops are allowed. It is against the law for any driver to refuse you service based on your destinations or the number of them you need.
(Keep in mind, the taximeter will run as one continuous trip; it is not turned off and then started again with every stop. You pay the entire fare at the end of your trip.) This is what you can say, though…
5. Cell phone usage.
It is against the law for any driver to use cellular phones or any communication device, EVEN IF THEY ARE HANDS-FREE, while operating a cab. In a city where every crosswalk looks like a death trap, eyes and ears need to be with the road at all times.
>>> IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THESE VIOLATIONS, TAKE ACTION.
Record their medallion number (on the lit-up block on top of the cab OR on the back of the driver’s seat if you can get the door unlocked) in writing or as a photo.
If you do decide to then take the cab ride, you have a right to refrain from encouraging this behavior by DECLINING TO TIP and explaining the reason. Report the medallion number to www.nyc.gov/311 or call 3-1-1 to file a complaint.