Taxi driving in New York City, or any place is a service business. In the case of taxi driving, revenue is derived from one source, for two reasons. The basic rate of fare. This is how much a trip costs according to the posted price. This is usually controlled by a municipal organization. In New York City the rate of fare is controlled by the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission.
The other source of revenue comes from gratuities, or tips. This is, to some degree, controlled by the driver, based on the level of service he provides to his client.
No two taxi drivers earn the same amount. Earnings averages run the gamut, from less than a hundred dollars per shift to as much as three hundred fifty dollars per shift. This is net earnings, after expenses, in the pocket, before taxes.
What makes the difference? The key variables are:
Time working per shift.
Luck can play a small part.
Talent or skill.
Money spent on gasoline
Time spent looking (cruising) for customers
Safe Driving (A cab in the repair shop earns nothing)
Like any profession, the tricks of the trade a taxi driver develops will help as he becomes an accomplished professional.
KNOWING WHERE TO GO AND WHEN TO BE THERE:
By knowing where to be and when to be there the scope of cruising a taxi driver does looking for fares can be kept to a minimum.
No one can limit where the passenger wants to go. This makes knowing where to go and when to go there all that much more important. As soon as a taxi driver knows the passengers destination, he has time to plan where to point and drive the taxi after the fare in hopes of finding a new passenger as soon as possible. In some cases a fare will be standing waiting for the taxi as the passenger exits the cab. But this is not always the case.
Theaters, transportation terminals, convention centers and hotels all generate demand for taxi service. Knowing which show gets out at what time, when planes and trains will arrive, or local movie schedules and even what time shifts change at certain businesses are part of being a professional taxi driver.
Opening a door is not an outdated act of chivalry. It is the act of a conscientious chauffer aware of the comfort and value he is adding to the experience of his client.
Can a taxi door be opened by a taxi driver every time a passenger gets in or out of a taxicab? Probably not. The street hail aspect of the industry the riding public is used to, has many passengers hailing, and quickly getting in to the back seat of the taxi with no help from the driver. That being said, it still allows for a large percentage of clients to have the door opened for them.
The exact amount of extra income opening a door is worth in terms of revenue to one New York City taxi driver will never be known. But, how many of those doors needed to be opened? All of them! The only question is who does the opening. Knowing this is part of being a professional.
By limiting how far you cruise looking for a fare a taxi driver can conserve gasoline. this will reduce expenses and increase earnings. This can be done by knowing where and when to be places, such as the Theater District when shows let out or in the financial district when workers get off from work.
This does not mean a driver should avoid cruising. It means a driver should have an idea of why he is cruising towards a certain area. There is no reason to cruise towards a warehouse district if all the buildings are closed. But, if there is a night club in one of the warehouses a taxi driver might want to check out the area and see if anyone needs a taxicab.
The second largest part of the income equation for a taxi driver is earned from gratuities. It is the custom in New York City and most places to tip a taxi driver for good service. Some people tip very well and others less so. Nonetheless a taxi driver in New York City can expect to be tipped for most, if not all rides.
DID I MENTION TIPS?
As much as forty percent of a taxi driver's net income can be derived from tips. If good service leads to better tips, then providing good service is a habit a professional taxi driver must develop.
TRY SOMETIHNG DIFFERENT
Little things that don't cost much, or often cost nothing can be used to please your passengers and hopefully drive up income. Some drivers find free daily newspapers and give them to their customers. Some buy a stack of daily newspapers and leave them in the back seat of the cab. A small investment adding value to the customer's experience. Some make sure to ask about a certain type of music the passenger might want to hear. One taxi driver in New York City gave his passengers peppermints.
REMEMBER THE TIPS (To Insure Prompt Service)
Cab Lease 130
Tip Percentage of Net = 37%
READ THE PASSENGER
A driver's ability to understand and communicate well with the passenger will create a platform of comfort from which good service can be enjoyed by the passenger. The value added to their experience is necessary for a passenger to be inspired to increase the tip.
RECOGNIZE THE MOOD
If a passenger seems disturbed about something it is probably not wise to engage them in a conversation. On the other hand if a passenger asks the driver about himself, the driver can then discuss a topic on which he is truly an expert.
DON'T BREAK THE RULES
Wherever there is a taxi service there is sure to be a regulator. A city, or State agency overseeing propriety, and safety. A driver must know the rules and follow them to avoid violations. Violation of rules by taxi drivers can cost a good deal in both fines and lost income. If suspension or revocation of a taxi driver license takes place, a taxi driver in New York City can lose his income all together. In 2007 dollars, a driver convicted of violations that result in the suspension of his license for thirty days can lose as much a ,000. of income, plus 0. or more in fines.
INCOME IS THE OTHER SIDE OF THE VIOLATION EQUATION
On the other side of the violation equation is the tremendous earning potential of a New York City Taxi Driver. From under a hundred dollars per shift, to as much as three hundred fifty dollars per shift, and more brings thousands of people each year to New York City.
BUT YOU GOTTA DO IT RIGHT
Are you looking for a career change?
Do you need a part time job or a weekend job?
Are you looking for a Summer Job during college?
To Find out
How To Get A Taxi License
Master Cabbie Taxi Academy
(c) Terry Gelber All Rights Reserved 2007
Terry Gelber Is A Licensed New York City Taxi Driver