Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place. …………………….. -Johnny Carson



In the 1982 comedy Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman, dressed as soap opera sensation Dorothy Michaels, flags down a Manhattan cab. When a businessman tries to jump into the vehicle, Hoffman slams him over the head with his shopping bags. Finding a cab in New York City sometimes can be tough, but it doesn’t have to get physical. Hailing a cab is a bit of a ballet ~  a step off the curb, a lift of the arm.  See Cameron do it.


Flagging down a cab is so romantic and cinematic …and complicated.
Why do so many New York taxis seem to drive by without stopping for you? The answer  is ~ it’s all in the lights.  The roof lights, that is.

A cab is….

Available: when just the center is lit, highlighting the medallion number

Off Duty: when the “off duty” lights are lit

Occupied: when no lights are lit, the cab already has a fare.


Here’s a visual for the Lego-minded by the outlandishly great Christoph Niemann.


Now for the complicated part ~ getting a cab when it’s raining.  Best bet? Head to a hotel. A hotel generally has a taxi stand and the staff there can can raise a cab much easier than you can. It’s worth the price of the tip.

So if/when you need that ride uptown or down, keep these rules in mind ~

  • Stand on the side of the street that has traffic going in the same direction that you want to go.
  • Street corners are good places to hail a cab or, better yet, stand between parked cars, in between traffic lights.
  • Step a foot or two off the sidewalk and into the street.  Wave your cash in the air, if you dare.  This is NYC, after all.
  • Stick your arm out like you mean it.
  • Look the driver in the eyes. (With a little luck, you might find yourself in the Cash Cab.)

Here’s a quick primer ~

So, you’re in the cab.  Now what?  If you’re close to your destination and see someone up ahead hailing a cab, ask the driver to stop next to them, get out and walk the rest of the way. Everybody wins ~ the driver gets another fare and someone gets a cab. Maybe next time, it will be you.  🙂

Soon, though, we’ll have Get Taxi.

I’ve got the app on my phone.  It’s up and running in London, Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and Moscow.

Hey, Taxi!  Welcome to the digital age.   🙂

Toni 10/5/12