How Taxi Meters Work

By: Jamie Page Deaton  | 

Common Fares

Some areas have other surcharges that are added to your time and distance charges. The cab driver enters those additional fares on the meter.
© Purdy

No matter what, you know you're going to get charged for the time you spend in a cab and the distance you travel; however, some areas have other fares that are added to your time and distance charges. The cab driver enters those fares on the meter itself.

The most common fare type is a simple pickup fee. In the New York City example we mentioned on the previous page, it costs $3 just to get into a cab. If you get a cab in New York between 4 and 8 p.m., you'll get charged an additional peak-hour surcharge of $2.50. After 8 p.m., there's a night surcharge of $1. Plus, the passenger is responsible for any tolls, and there's a 50-cent sales tax on each cab ride.


Most municipalities only cover fares within their limits. Generally speaking, if you ask a cab to leave city limits, you get charged a different set of fares. For example, if you catch a cab in New York to go to Newark Airport, you get charged a Rate Code 3: the normal time and distance traveled rate, plus a surcharge of $20. If you take a cab from New York City to Westchester or Nassau Counties, the portion of the trip that's within those counties costs twice as much as the rate in the city. It's $1.40 for every fifth of a mile (0.3 kilometers) or minute of waiting time. New York cabs don't charge for additional passengers, but cabs in Washington D.C. do — it's $1 for additional passengers.

Most cities require cabs to have all fares posted in the cab, so you can have a good idea of what you should be charged. Of course, that doesn't always stop a very few unscrupulous drivers from trying to take advantage of passengers, particularly if the passengers don't know the area well.