So, I’ll be riding in a taxi for the first time Friday morning. I’ll have just a bookbag on me, and I’ll be the only passenger. Any tips on etiquette? Should I just keep my bookbag with me, not in the trunk? Is the tip about 15%, like for restaurants? Heck, am I supposed to ride in the passenger’s seat, or backseat? I feel so…uniformed.
In the United States, you are expected to sit in the back seat, you can take small items like a book bag with you, and you would tip about 15%.
(This advice is country-specific: I’ve taken taxis more often in Australia than in the U.S., and there a solo passenger is expected to sit in the front seat next to the driver, and would not tip the driver but might round up to the nearest dollar. You’d still be able to carry your book bag with you.)
Also, check into whether cabs in your area take credit cards or no. Cabs in Chicago only (relatively) recently had PIN-pads installed on the back of the front seat to let you swipe a credit or debit card. Carry cash if you’re not sure.
This is not really a matter of etiquette, but I would not stash a backpack in the taxi’s trunk for fear that I (and the taxi driver) would forget about it. In fact, when I have a backpack with me in the back seat, I make sure my arm is hooked through one of the straps, so I don’t leave it lying on the seat when I get out of the taxi.
It depends on which state your in. In Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada your expected to offer to drive the taxi yourself while the cabbie naps in the back. In Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas you should strip down to your underwear and sit on the drivers lap. But make sure you invite him to dinner first, or you’ll end up in jail. Everywhere else just strap yourself to the hood and sing the state song at the top of your lungs.
I’d keep my backpack with me, tip 10-15%, and ask politely whether I could sit in the front. When I take cabs (rarely,) I always ask, since I get carsick easily, and have never had a driver make me sit in the back. Of course, I’m a woman of a certain age, and completely non-threatening. If it weren’t for the motion sickness thing, I wouldn’t even ask…
Enter and exit from the curb side back door, sit in the back. Tip about 10%. If you have a preferred route, specify it to the driver - this also tells them you’re a townie and will know if they try to take a scenic route.
As someone who rides a bicycle in the city, I heartily endorse the part I bolded. Always nice to not have car doors swinging open in front of me. There’s still about 299 things that cabbies do that makes me think they’re trying to kill me, but that one’s a biggie.
Most drivers are regulated via a cab commission of some sort. The driver him/herself is not allowed to set the maximum rates. And with the price of fuel lately, rates are usually not keeping up with operating costs.
If I hadn’t driven taxicab for a couple summers when I was going to college, I might have believed you. Hey, I’ve been to those states and they have some STRANGE rules there.
But yeah, as someone else said, a 10% tip is perfectly adequate, especially for doing nothing more than driving, which is why he’s getting paid in the first place. If he goes WAY out of his way, beyond just loading, unloading luggage, then maybe something higher. Although he may be an independent contractor in a sense of the word, he also surrenders anything from 40% - 60% of all fares collected to the company, along with paying for his own fuel. So tips are appreciated, even though more than half of the riders don’t tip at all.
This isn’t etiquette either, but another way to lose things is for them to fall from your pockets. This seldom happens to me in a regular car, but whether from the softness of the seats or the angle, my pockets leak profusely in the back of taxicabs.