Taxi, car service, jitney, livery ... what's the difference?

We all know that a taxi or cab is, I think. However, I’m cluseless about the differences between them and a car service, jitney and livery.

In the popular media – television and movies – I’ve seen lots of references where someone will use “car service” in the same context as “taxi,” especially where the story taes place in New York. “I’m going to take a car service to the airport.” However, nobody catches a car service in the street.

In New York State, there are special license plates marked “LIVERY”. At my first job, in an inner city supermarket in Buffalo, several cars with LIVERY plates were parked in front, all soliciting prospective passengers. Any time someone walked out, the drivers would all shout “LIV-A-RUH! LIV-A-RUH!” A few would shout “JIT-NAH!”, which I assume means “jitney.” Regular cab drivers well yell “HAAAAAACK!”, which was amusing, but I just know that’s slang for “taxi.”

So, to those living in taxi-filled cities like New York … what’s the difference between a taxi, car service, jitney and a livery?

I can only speak in general terms, but AFAIK, “Livery” refers to limousine service – even if not in an actual limousine, the driver is specially licensed and bonded, and the driver is semi-isolated so passenger can have alcohol in the car, and may be exempt from seatbelt laws.

A jitney, where I’ve seen the term used, is a small taxi-bus that carries multiple passengers along a somewhat flexible route.

A taxi is a taxi, available by appointment, radio dispatch, or hailed in the street.

Car service I’ve never seen in popular media, except for a few novels, nor have I seen it defined. Surely, it’s just any service that will take an appointment to pick you up in a car? Could be a taxi or a limo, but not a bus ('cause that’s a shuttle).

in NYC, the Car Service is an alternative to the taxi (those yellow cars you see everywhere). The advantage to car services over taxis are that rather than following a set time/mile fee which accumulates until you are dropped off, one flat rate is paid in advance, which in most cases will cost less than a taxi will. The disadvantage is that you can’t just “hail” a car service, rather you must either go to one of their offices (and there are many competing car services so each office is a separate company) or make an appointment or reservation.

I see the “Livery” license plates in California, too.

I’ve also heard the term black car service, because the cars are usually that color; as far as the cars themselves are concerned, they’re usually limousines or the largest Lincoln standard sedans.

Thanks for your answers!

I guess given the responses, in the Buffalo of my youth, there wasn’t much of a difference between a taxi and livery – they both used the same types of vehicles – but taxis could theoretically cruise for fares, while liveries generally parked in front of inner-city supermarkets and waited for passengers.