Taking a taxi from John F. Kennedy or LaGuardia airports in New York City was once a nightmare. Now the procedure has been made safer and easier. Getting a taxi from Newark Airport is not as simple, which I will explain later. The major thing to watch-out for is to not be lured into taking a car service by someone standing next to the taxi line who is telling you he will take you somewhere for a “fixed price.” You have no protection if you take that car. You could end up paying much more or not getting to your destination at all. Take only licensed yellow cabs. Avoid unregulated gypsy cabs or limo drivers trying to make an extra buck. It is against the law and the drivers may not be licensed or insured.
Once you have your baggage at either airport, follow to sign that reads TAXIS. There will be a line and once you are at the head of that line, a dispatcher will ask you where you want to go. He will hand you a slip of paper and you will get into the cab he directs you to. If you have any problems then you are protected. You can report the taxi by recording the number of the cab. The dispatcher has also recorded the time and the place the cab is going from the airport. It’s all very safe. The paper the dispatcher gave you will explain all this and also give you an idea of what the fare might be. You will pay whatever the meter says, plus a toll if you go over a bridge or through a tunnel. You may also have to pay a surcharge if it’s a certain time of day (like after 8 pm or during rush hour). The total should be on the meter once you stop at your destination. Pay that plus a 15% per cent tip to the driver in cash. Do no expect to use a credit card since cabs that accept them are few and far between. You should also ask for a receipt. This will give you the total plus the number of the cab, in case you should have a problem later (like you leave something in the cab by accident, but good luck on getting it back). One good thing from Kennedy these days is that coming into New York is for a flat fee, which was recently made to be forty-five dollars to any destination. You can expect to pay at least that much going or coming from Manhattan to JFK. LaGuardia will cost you somewhere around twenty-five dollars since it’s closer to the city.
Taxis can carry up to four people and will rarely take more. If your group is larger you are better off calling one of the many car services and ordering a van in advance. There are a lot of car services that go to and from the airports but my favorite is Dial 7 at 212 777-77777. I have had problems with other companies (like having a reservation and them not showing up) but this company has always been there for me. They will take reservations for pick-up at your hotel or airport and they will take credit cards if you tell them when you make the reservation. It’s much easier to use a car service if you have a lot of luggage. It’s the best way to get from Newark (except by bus or train). Taxis from New York, since they are traveling to New Jersey-another state, must charge you extra since they have to come back from Newark empty. They are not allowed to pick up passengers there.
One more thing is that not all drivers know their way around, so it helps to know where you’re going and to speak up (especially if the meter is running). However, most drivers are professional and know that their job depends on good service. By law they cannot refuse to take you anywhere inside the five boroughs or to New York airports. If they argue with you, just get out and take another cab. To hail a cab on the street, look for one with the light “on.” If the roof light is off, then they are occupied. If there is any problem with any taxi, then call the Taxi and Limousine Commission at 212 227-0700, 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday or dial 311 for help with any problem you may encounter (taxi or otherwise).