All's Fare: NYC Taxicab Driver Regulations That May Surprise You

Posted on: 16 September 2014

Taxicab drivers look like they rule the road as they weave their way through traffic to get you to your destination safely. It may seem like they are above the law, but the truth is taxicab drivers in New York City are held to strict regulations. Not only must they obey traffic regulations, they must comply with regulations regarding the inside of the cab, too. While some rules may be humorous, they are designed to protect your safety.


It's not surprising that taxicab drivers are expected to dress appropriately and wear clean clothing, but you might be surprised to learn that according to the New York City taxicab driver's rules, they are prohibited from wearing their undies on the outside of their clothes. That's right. Taxicab drivers in NYC must keep their underwear hidden under their clothing at all times.This, of course, also includes swimwear, tank tops, tube tops and cut offs.

Music to Your Ears

If you thought you were at the mercy of the taxicab driver's taste in music, you'd be wrong. NYC taxi drivers must allow the passenger to choose the radio station played during the trip. This includes not listening to anything at all, if the passenger chooses. So the next time you hop a cab and the cabby is happy jamming away to his favorite tunes, remember that asking him to change the station is your choice. There is no regulation that says the cab drive must be happy with your choice, so you might want to think this one over before you throw your new-found knowledge around.

Accommodations for People with Disabilities

Taxicab drivers cannot refuse service to a person with a disability and must transport wheelchairs or other assistive devices. If the wheelchair or other devices occupy the back seat, the taxi driver must allow the disabled passenger to sit in the front seat. Service animals must be allowed to travel in the taxi with the passenger. If the person with a disability needs a companion to accompany them, the cab driver cannot charge extra for the companion.

No Refusals

If you thought taxicab drivers got to pick and choose who they transport, you'll probably be surprised to learn that cab drivers in NYC don't have that luxury. Unless the potential passenger is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, presents a danger to the vehicle or the driver or refuses to put out his cigarette, the cab driver must transport the passenger. That means if your cabby doesn't like your choice of clothing or is offended by your hippy medallion, he is out of luck. However, if your cab driver has already turned on his off duty light, you are the one who is out of luck.


You already know that you'll be expected to pay a fare at the end of your trip. What you might not know is that drivers in taxis equipped to process credit cards cannot refuse a credit card payment or insist on getting paid in cash. They also cannot insist, or imply, that a specific amount in a tip is required. Although 15 to 20 percent is standard for a tip, the amount you pay the cabby is up to you. In addition, if you choose to share a cab with another passenger, the cab driver cannot charge you both for the same distance.

Air Conditioning & Heating

The cab driver is responsible for keeping you comfortable during your ride. This means you have the right to ask for the heat or air conditioning to be adjusted if you are feeling uncomfortable. Remember, you are paying for a service and part of that service includes riding in comfort.

Other Prohibited Actions

There are other health and safety regulations that cab drivers must follow.

  • Phones - Cab drivers are prohibited from using cell phones while on duty, unless they are parked and waiting for a passenger; this includes hands free phones
  • Doors - The cab driver is prohibited from locking the back doors of the cab, unless you ask him to. The front doors may be locked, if there are no passengers in the front seat.
  • Drugs & Alcohol - Cab drivers must be drug and alcohol free.
  • Weapons - Cab drivers cannot carry a weapon in the vehicle.

Knowing your rights as passenger means you can get the services you pay for. If your rights are violated, take down the driver's badge number and ID and report him to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Click here to find out more information on taxis in different parts of the country.


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