Brooklyn Taxi Guide: How to Tip, How to Stiff…

…and How to Make the Angry Yellow Cab Driver Go from Manhattan to Brooklyn, Despite Heavy Sighing, Muttered Profanity, Maniacal Driving, and General Rudeness, as reported by users of the Prospect Heights Message Board:

A. “I give about 15% – 20%, or a minimum of $2-$3 if a short ride.” -VeggieQueen
A. “I tip at least $3 if they’re coming over the bridge from Downtown, more if it’s from midtown and up…” -daisyh
A. “If I take a yellow cab home from Manhattan I tip about 15%, depending on how the driver reacted when I told him I was going to Brooklyn…-em
A. “I usually tip $2 to $4 unless it’s a really long trip.” -neene

Q. CAR SERVICE: CAN YOU SKIP THE TIP? Seems like a lot of people tend to tip cab drivers, but avoid tipping the car service drivers, on the rationale that they drive their own cars and don’t have to pay for a medallion. Apparently, some car services automatically add a gratuity (~10%) to the fare, according to kristina.
A. Magic 8 Ball says: Unclear. Shake again. From Idlewild (who is a former car service driver): “Not all car service drivers own their car, and even if they do, they are still paying hefty maintaince and tax costs.”

Q. WHAT IF THE DRIVER COMPLAINS/REFUSES TO TAKE ME BACK TO BROOKLYN? This used to be almost the rule, and now is becoming the exception. But it still happens. A lot. What’s more, some cabbies will refuse fares across Brooklyn if they deem yours not worthy enough. As far as we know, none of this is legal.
A. Legal or not: don’t even let it happen. Pre-empt it. Jump in the cab and slam the door before disclosing your destination. If the driver balks, remember this phrase: “You may not want to take me to Brooklyn, but you’re not getting another fare until you do, because I’m not getting out.” -Carnivore

Q. RUDE DRIVERS: SHOULD YOU GET REVENGE? And should you report the cabbie who won’t go to Brooklyn??
A. Don’t bother, unless you’re unemployed, or especially vindictive: “You can complain all you want, but to have any real action taken, you have to turn up to a TLC hearing in person, which usually means taking a day off work. What a shock! The TLC isn’t concerned about weeding out lame drivers, or serving the entire NYC populace.” -ANFIELD

26 Replies to “Brooklyn Taxi Guide: How to Tip, How to Stiff…”

  1. Wow, a 2-3 dollar tip to go to Manhattan to Brooklyn? Keep in mind the driver will, most likely, not get a fare on the return trip.

    No wonder cabbies balk at going there. I always round up to a minimum $2 just in Manhattan.

    I can almost guarantee that, if you can afford to ride in a cab, you are making more than the driver. Have a heart.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with Dave. The reason Brooklyn residents get such attitude from drivers is because you take them all the way out to Brooklyn (and yes, Brooklyn is ALL THE WAY OUT) without tipping them properly–i.e. compensating them for the fact that they won’t get a fare on the way back.

    These guys are trying to make a living, so you say “Brooklyn” and every last douche-bag under-tipping trust-fund hipster that has rested their ass in his cab at 4:00am comes to his mind, and the dude doesn’t want to take you.

    The only solution is to start a revolution in tipping the cabbies better as a Borough, and then cabs would scramble to the LES to take you and your skinny jeans home.

    I’m not gonna hold my breath for you.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with Ben and Dave. Living in Brooklyn is hard enough when traveling via train, but stiffing a cab driver with a $2 (especially at 4 o’clock in the morning!) is especially harsh.

    Last weekend, a couple friends and I hailed down a cab and (for the first time ever) three guys tried to steal it from us. The driver knew we were going to Brooklyn, but made the Manhattan guys get out anyway. The result: a hefty tip for choosing Brooklyn over New York.

    Sometimes cabbies do have a heart, so why not have heart for them too?

  4. Traveling to Brooklyn, tip at least $4 (or 20%) no matter what.

    If it’s a $20 ride, I’ll round it up to $25. Or more if the driver is polite.

    Going into Manhattan, however, I figure you can tip normally, because you’re making their day by giving them the elusive return fare.

  5. To get a cab to Hoboken, which is about 20 minutes from anywhere in midtown/downtown at 4am via yellow cab, it costs $30-40 per cab ride (depending on your negotiating skills).

    Makes zero sense to me that Brooklyn residents get to pay about half that for a ride, just because they are in New York.

    They should do away with fares after midnight to 6am and make a flat rate zone cost for NY/NJ destinations. Make it distance sensitive from the tunnels & bridges of Manhattan, like $6 per mile (a cost which takes into account the loss of the round trip).

    Before you say “Flat rate, that’s absurd!” – This $3 flat rate also reflects the cost of a ride to JFK (15 miles from Manhattan for $45). Of course the difference is that when a cab drives to JFK they should get a return fare there also. Hence the double cost at $6 per mile with my idea.

    So if you are in Brooklyn Heights or Hoboken, it might be like a $12 cab ride. Cabbies shouldn’t be huffing a puffing and it shouldn’t break your bank.

  6. I’ve only had one really bad experience with a cabbie going to Brooklyn (from Manhattan, that is): I got in the cab, shut the door, and told him I needed to get to 5th & Carroll.

    The driver slumps in his seat. “I’m so TIRED,” he whined.

    “Okay, fuck you then,” I said, and immediately got out. I have no patience for that kind of bullshit WHATsoever.

    On the other hand, I’ve gotten plenty of great cabbies from Man. to Brooklyn — usually when I tell them Park Slope, they’re cool with it, and I get no flack from them whatsoever. Maybe when it’s a lot further out, they have some issue, but other than that, tis okay.

  7. I never realized how cheap i was being until I read this.

    If my cabbie is the slightest bit impolite, I tip $0.90 or whatever change is left when rounded up to the next dollar. If I like the guy I give him the change plus a buck… and I thought that was generous.
    I really don’t want my rides from LES to Brooklyn Heights to exceed $13 so can we just all stop tipping so well??

  8. I am set to testify before the TLC for a cabbie who demanded $4 to cover his trip back to Manhattan. I said, “Dude, are you stoned? That’s illegal. And besides, YOU PICKED ME UP ON 5TH AVENUE IN BROOKLYN.” He insisted on getting $4, I said I’d go to the TLC, and he relented. But I wrote to the TLC anyway. Anyone have advice on how to proceed (aside from telling the truth)?

  9. I completely disagree. I don’t want to start rewarding people handsomely for doing something that they should do(and are legally obligated to do). I live in Brooklyn because I don’t have the $$ and if occasionally I have something heavy or am traveling at an odd hour and need a taxi I’m not paying extra for the privilege of having the driver obey the law. Good service deserves a good tip Iz, but doing the bare minimum doesn’t seem like it should be rewarded. All you’re doing is making it more likely that drivers will feel cheated when i give them a reasonable tip for providing a reasonable service.

  10. i think in general two dollars in definitely not adequate. but, as is the case nearly half the time i’m taking a car from manhattan to brooklyn, the driver doesn’t even know how to get there and i end up giving directions and patiently enduring various routine u-turns, etc. in these cases, i think it is totally acceptable to tip poorly. if they drive poorly and don’t know how to get to even the most recognizable parts of brooklyn, then they’re not getting a fat tip. period.

    and, by the same token, exceptionally great and/or geographically knowledgable drivers get hooked up.

  11. let’s not forget that 15- 20% is an acceptable tip for any job done well. so, it really depends on where in brooklyn you live and how much that fare home costs. i live in williamsburg (and no, i am not a trust-fund hipster. i am a poor nyc teacher) and it costs about $12 for a car from the LES. so, that means that a $2 tip is more than reasonable. whether the cabbie gets a fare on his way back is not my concern. the fact is that in neigborhoods like williamsburg and park slope, the cabbie will often find another fare. i’m paying for a service and i tip accordingly.

  12. I agree with Dave. I always tip at least $5 to come to Brooklyn and always tell them a route back ( say, down Dekalb) where I think they may find a fare back to the city. That said, I also always close the door to the cab before I give my end point and instead of saying Brooklyn, I tell them I’m right over the Manhattan Bridge. Somehow this seems to soften the Brooklyn blow and allays fears that they end up driving to Coney Island.

  13. I agree. I always tip at least $5 to come to Brooklyn and always tell them a route back ( say, down Dekalb) where I think they may find a fare back to the city. That said, I also always close the door to the cab before I give my end point and instead of saying Brooklyn, I tell them I’m right over the Manhattan Bridge. Somehow this seems to soften the Brooklyn blow and allays fears that they end up driving to Coney Island.

  14. If you want to skimp on the driver’s tip, then just take the subway and walk..
    come on, if you’ve been throwing money at bartenders all night, spending at least 5$ per drink, with a dollar a drink tip or more, then throw another 5$ at the taxi driver for a 20$ fare. If you can afford a cab at all, you can afford the tip. They work longer hours than bartenders.

  15. $20 fare? Holy cow. I arrived in the LES one night without concert tickets so I took a round trip cab to Fort Greene and back to the LES all for only $18. i don’t recall what tip I left.

  16. My worst experience – I got in a cab in Manhattan and told him I was going to Brooklyn. He told me there was a subway right on the corner, and why didn’t I take it?

  17. I could be crazy, but I feel like if a cab’s headed to Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg or Brooklyn Heights, they’re gonna get a return fare to Manhattan or another “chic” part of BK. I can understand balking if they need to go to Mill Basin or Gravesend, but I don’t really think Park Slope is a 1-way fare only. Am I nuts?

  18. “compensating them for the fact that they won’t get a fare on the way back”

    While I agree that $2 is at the lower end of the scale and I think cabbies have a generally crappy job, it’s not my problem if they don’t get a fare on the way back. Serving Brooklyn (and the other boroughs that are part of Manhattan) is part of the terms of the NYC license, it’s part of the deal. Some fares you make more money, some fares you make less.

  19. Last Nov, I got in a cab in LES, told the driver I was going to Park Slope, and gave him the cross streets, which happen to be the same street names in Manhattan. However, I DID say Park Slope first. Driver started driving up to the East Village, and after 5 blocks, I asked him if he knew where he was going, he said sure. I asked if he knew where Park Slope was, and he said no. When I replied that it was in Brooklyn, and that he was going the wrong way, he asked me how to get there! He turned around and headed to the bridge without resetting the meter. When he finally got to my stop, I paid him and asked for change, and he shorted me $1, stating that I was short-tipping. I argued that 1) he went the wrong way, 2) he didn’t reset the meter, and 3) I had to tell him how to get me home, and that it was enough that I was even tipping him a few bucks. After a few more minutes of arguing, I gave up and let him have the extra dollar and told him to buy a map.

  20. I’m with toasterface – $2 is fine – if they don’t get another fare, so be it. Is it fair that tenants get so little and pay so much to live in Manhattan? Don’t like it? Live in Brooklyn. Is it fair for a cabbie to drive an ex-Manhattanite to Brooklyn at 4:00am and get a $2 tip? Don’t like it, drive a bus.

    My $2 worth.

  21. I was in the west village two weeks ago and caught a cab with a friend of mine, we were both going to Park Slope. The first cab we jumped into started heading uptown, when we told him Brooklyn he pulled over and said he was going off-duty. We hailed a second cab, once inside we told the driver Park Slope in Brooklyn; he first told us he had no gas to make the trip. I looked at his gas gauge; he was at a 1/4 tank. When I called him on it, he must’ve hit a cut-off switch under his wheel because his engine suddenly “died”, and he blamed us wanting to go to Brooklyn. My friend got out to hail another cab, but I refused to get out on principle. Finally, once my friend had flagged a cab down, I relented since it was after two in the morning and I just wanted to get home.

    The third cabbie that took us was tipped $7 on a $17 ride. The other two guys, I took pics of their hack licenses with my camera phone but don’t see any point reporting them.

  22. I was new and in Brooklyn. A ride to the city was $35 and I tiped $15 because I didn’t know any better.

    Jokes on me.

  23. Anyone that tips a cab driver less than 15% is just plain cheap! Make up all the excuses you want, you’re cheap. I always tip 20% to both cabs and car service as I do in restaurants.

  24. I recently moved to NYC 4 months ago and I am now reading bad cab experience blogs because I just had one! I left a restaurant in which the waiter coincidently warned me to get in the cab before I say where I am going because they might not want to take me but it is illegal. So what happens, first cabby I catch asks where I’m going? I get in and say Brooklyn and he shakes his head no then says he’s off duty. When I call him on, he exclaims that it is dinner time. I continued to argue and refused to get out. He drove me around two corners stopping and telling me to get out. I stayed in the cab for over an hour (on principle) while he got out and waited outside. Finally after calling 3-1-1, I reluctantly left the cab. Only because I was tired, it was late and I wasn’t sure if staying in the cab longer would prevent me from getting another cab and actually getting home. I walked to a better cab area and finally got one home safely…no thanks to cabby #6P81! I realize the business logic behind the whole, “We’ll make more money if we stay in Manhattan but come on…” Just ain’t right let alone the fact that it is illegal! The silent cabby who gave us the ride received a nice tip ($10 on top of the $25 fare). I know he wasn’t pleased about the ride either but at least he did it with no (outspoken) complaint. Just sad my first hailing-my-own-cab experience was such a disappointment! ;-(

  25. “If you want to skimp on the driver’s tip, then just take the subway and walk..
    come on, if you’ve been throwing money at bartenders all night, spending at least 5$ per drink, with a dollar a drink tip or more, then throw another 5$ at the taxi driver for a 20$ fare. If you can afford a cab at all, you can afford the tip. They work longer hours than bartenders.”

    My bartenders are friendly, and I actually enjoy their company, and they do what they do very well. I will almost certainly see them again, so the tip in this situation is completely different.

    Most taxi drivers in NYC are bitter, smelly, and will illegally refuse to take you certain places. My bartenders have never told me they won’t make me a drink just because it takes a few more minutes to make and involves muddling limes.

    In the restaurant service industry, you actually have to be a pleasant person and do a good job to make good tips. Whereas, taxi drivers expect to be tipped well no matter what. Keep in mind that taxi drivers also keep a part of the fare for themselves; bartenders do not get a cut of the price of your drink.

    I’m also not here to compensate people for their poor business decisions. If it’s not worth driving a taxi without making big tips, then don’t do drive a taxi unless you own your own medallion.

    Tipping a cabbie always feels like a handout.

    Can you imagine, 15-20% from Manhattan to JFK?? That’s ridiculous. If I wanted to pay more than $70 for a taxi I would just get a private car to drive me.

    Also, the automatic tip calculations are full of sh*t.
    Why is the toll included??

    I tip the driver normally $2 in the city, $3 or maybe $4 if I have to go to Brooklyn or Queens, and $5 to the airport (I only take a taxi to JFK if there isn’t much traffic — if there ends up being traffic, maybe a couple bucks more). I don’t think the driver’s tip should be based on the cost of the trip at all, but on the time the trip takes.

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