Tag Archives: taxis

5 reasons to take the subway

subwayFirst-time visitors to New York City may be hesitant to take the subway.

I was you once; I spent too much money on taxis and wore myself out walking dozens upon dozens of city blocks.

But trust me —

The subway is the best way to get around town.

Here are 5 reasons to give the MTA a chance the next time you are in town.

  1. Speed — The subway is usually the fastest way between Point A and Point B.  There’s no traffic to contend with, and you have express train options when you have longer trips or are traveling from borough to borough.
  2. Cost — Currently $2.75 a ride, the subway is cheaper than any taxi ride. And while walking is free, you have to think about the cost of your time, and the wear-and-tear on your body. Most of my friends leave NYC broken-down and exhausted from the unaccustomed amount of walking they do…and it was supposed to be vacation.
  3. Comfort  — Except at morning and evening rush, the subway has room to breathe and seats for most travelers. I have claustrophobia, and I use the subway without any problem.
  4. People Watching  — Everyone takes the subway in New York City, from celebrities to crazies on the street…so you will see everything. It is a slice of humanity like no other. You’ll return home with story upon story.
  5. Performances — Like this one:

I mean, come on — take a chance and take a ride!

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Wheelie dangerous

Look at the nifty decal my airport taxi was sporting tonight:

cyclistsWhile I appreciate the sentiment, based on my experience with cyclists in the city, they need the safe driving reminder.

The suckers will hit anything that moves.

And yes, I am generalizing…based on a wealth of first-hand experience.

Police story

I hailed a cab to take me to downtown last night — nothing unusual about that. But as soon as we pulled away from the curb, there was a flash of lights and sirens behind us.

From another cab.

undercover taxi police carAn undercover taxi cab police car.

I didn’t even know they existed! But my taxi driver said the police have undercover taxis, town cars — you name it — all waiting to take down unsuspecting lawbreakers.

Which filled my head with this scene:

A New York City bus pulls up to a stop. But it’s not a real bus — it’s an undercover police bus! Filled with SWAT team members. All armed and dangerous. Who run out of the bus and into the streets.

That’s all I got so far. But I like it.

To be continued…

All roads lead home

We all know it’s a small world.  The song says so.

But sometimes the universe puts a big ol’ exclamation point on it.

I flew home to New York City late Saturday after a trip to Chicago and got in the cab, prepared to doze during the drive home.

My cabbie had a different idea.

You see, he was a talker.  He asked about my trip, what I did for a living, where my hometown was.  Since I’m a talker, I reluctantly abandoned the nap and chatted with him instead.

(He had a French accent, so it wasn’t a hardship.)

Turns out my NYC cab driver, who hails from a French colony in Africa, attended Southern Illinois University and had a roommate from Paducah, Kentucky — a stone’s throw from my own hometown.

Coincidence?  Sure…but what a fun one!

Robo cab

Living in NYC, I am pretty spoiled when it comes to hailing cabs.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Big Apple, here are the steps required:

  1. Walk outside.
  2. Hold our your arm.
  3. Get in taxi.

There are no numbers to call and usually very little wait (except at rush hour and in the pouring rain.)

I have often bemoaned how difficult it is to get a taxi in smaller cities where you have to place a phone order for a cab 30-45 minutes ahead of time to guarantee a ride.

Boston is somewhere in between.  Taxis aren’t as plentiful as NYC, but you should be able to get one within 10-15 minutes of your call.

But now you don’t have to call.

Boston Cab has installed a ‘text a taxi’ system.  Once your cellphone number and name are in their system, you just send a text with your current location, and they text you back the number of the cab that has been dispatched.

I love this.

No more talking to surley dispatchers….or accidentally getting into the wrong cab while you are waiting.  Plus, since you get a text when the cab is on its way, you don’t have to stand outside and freeze your giblets.

So, kudos to Boston for taking the leap into the 21st century with taxi texting.

(I’m sure NYC would have thought of it…if we needed it.)

Universal language

Cabbies usually hail from other countries in New York City.

It’s part of the local charm.

And while some people might find that a hindrance to conversation, I’ve never let it stop me from chatting up the taxi driver on my way back and forth to the airport.

But last night, I was in Tulsa, the heartland of America.  I was expecting Billy Bob to pick me up on his tractor and drive me to my meeting.  (I say this with all due love and respect; remember, I grew up in Kentucky.)

But who was my driver?  Eni, from Jamaica, with an accent so thick, you would have thought he had arrived just that morning, even though he has called Tulsa home for eight years.

Eni and I exchanged only the basic pleasantries until he discovered I was originally from Kentucky.  Then he asked, with some excitement,

“Did you go to the University of Kentucky?”

When I said with great pride that I had, Eni talked non-stop for the rest of the long cab ride — with tremendous knowledge and enthusiasm, I might add — about the UK Wildcats basketball program.  He is a huge fan of Coach Cal and knew our record this season as well as if not better than I.

Eni knew a lot about basketball…and American football…and the Olympics.  In fact, our shared love of sports became our common language, even though we sometimes had to struggle to figure out exactly what each other were saying, since his English was a bit broken.

When Eni picked me up at the end of my meeting, he had updates on the Olympic women’s figure skating still in progress.  You can bet if I’m ever in Tulsa again, Eni will be the cabbie I’ll call.

Every two years, the International Olympics Committee brings the world together through athletic competition.  Last night, I experienced first-hand how sports can be a bridge.

Sidewalk sermon

Are there etiquette rules for hailing a taxi?

One lady seems to think so.

Yesterday morning I rolled my wheelie bag to Columbus Avenue and stood mid-block, because taxis can get ticketed for picking up fares in the crosswalk.

At the corner two woman were also hailing taxis — in the crosswalk — but it’s not unusual to be one of many vying for a cab on the same spot in New York City.

After I had assumed the position — luggage in front of me, arm outstretched — one of the woman started yelling at me for “getting in front of her in line.”

Say what?

Taxis in Manhattan are plentiful, and I could already see about six of them with their lights on headed our way.

I chose to ignore the yelling at first, but she decided to walk over and confront me.

“Excuse me,” she said with quite a bit of ‘tude.  “You just walked in front of me.”

“Taxis can get tickets for picking up people in the crosswalk,” I said calmly.  “I simply moved down.”

“You moved ahead of me,” she repeated, hands on her hips.

I just turned away and continued to signal for the cab.  It was a moot point as far as I was concerned.

“And me, eight months pregnant — nice,” she huffed, and walked way.

Now, I hadn’t really paid attention to her in the first place, and I certainly hadn’t noticed she was pregnant under her heavy winter coat.  But I don’t think that knowledge would have changed my behavior….or should have.

Nobody made her get pregnant.  And nobody made her stand in the crosswalk.

Everybody makes their own choices.

Some…are simply poor ones.