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How Do You Find out How Much a Taxi Ride Costs before You Go?

written by: W. A. Swan•edited by: John Garger•updated: 3/8/2011

If you live in an area that offers taxi service, you may find it invaluable when you have need for direct transportation. Taxis are also useful when you have multiple stops and can plan the trip. Before you travel, you should figure how much a taxi costs so you have the money before you go.

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    What You Need to Know

    Taxi Before you get in a taxi, you should know three things: the exact destination, the route you wish to take and the approximate mileage to get there. If you tell the driver to just head for the East Side instead of 123 Hobby Street, the driver might take the wrong route and have to drive back to where you want to go. You should also be aware of the best route to get to your destination so you can guide the driver if he/she is unsure.

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    What You Need to Ask the Taxi Driver

    When you want to know how much a taxi costs, you must ask the driver three questions if you don’t already know the answers. You must find out the mileage rate, which is usually calculated at 1/10th of a mile. You must be aware of surcharges, which include extra passengers, baggage, stops or waiting time if the taxi must wait for you.

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    How to Calculate the Fare

    Taxi meters typically charge per each tenth of a mile (sometimes it is each quarter, fifth, or even eleventh of a mile). So you need to determine how many tenths of a mile you are traveling. We’ll use a simple example to find out how much a taxi ride cost.

    Mileage rate - 20 cents per each tenth of a mile

    One extra person - 25 cents

    Sitting charge - $3.00 (the amount you are charged for riding in the taxi)

    So, let’s take you and your child one mile to the food store. You are charged the initial fee for the cab ($3.00), the mileage rate multiplied by ten ($2.00), and the extra passenger fee for the child ($0.25).

    $3.00 + $2.00 + $0.25 = $5.25 total cost for the trip.

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    How to Control the Fare

    To control the fare, you must have control of the trip and make the most efficient use of time and distance. There are a few things you can do to control the fare. Find out if there is a flat fee for traveling long distances or to airports and bus terminals; often there is since these trips are common in metropolitan areas and the route is nearly always the same. Here are a few more tips to use:

    1. Use the ATM when going to the bank if possible to cut down or eliminate waiting time. If you remain in the car there is technically no wait time.

    2. Stay in the car. Avoid getting out of the car so you are not charged for multiple stops. Use drive-throughs.

    3. Call ahead to have your purchase or order ready when you arrive. You can have the taxi wait a few minutes while you run into the shop to get it. Many taxis have a free time window such as “the first five minutes."

    4. Don’t have the taxi wait while you run in and check to see if someone or something is at the destination. Call ahead to determine this; it may also save the trip.

    5. If you use the taxi to travel to work or regular trips, determine the shortest route and ask the driver to take that route. If you use the same route each time, you can estimate the cost regardless of the driver.

    If you take these steps and understand the pricing structure, you can figure out the cost of the taxi fare before you even get into the cab. You can also go a step farther and compare taxi prices if you have more than one cab company in the area. Make sure you understand their coverage areas since some companies may not be able or willing to travel to the area you want.

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    Personal experience driving taxi from 2003 to 2005 and in 2010.

    Schaller Consulting - Taxi Fares in Major US Cities

    Image Source: William A. Swan