Closing Bell: No Cabbies to Brooklyn

Last week we covered the four-year long plan to close Manhattan bound lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge during from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays, from midnight to 7 a.m. on Saturdays and from midnight to 9 a.m Sundays. Looks like Brooklynian commenters were pretty peeved with how taxi drivers have been refusing to take Brooklyners home from Manhattan due to construction. “After 2 cabs refusing, a driver finally took us but was angry the whole time and explained that all cabs will start refusing. And then Saturday night around 2:30am, my boyfriend and I tried to get a cab home… 4 in a row refused us,” writes a poster. Another points out the Manhattan Bridge has lanes reversed when the Brooklyn Bridge is closed, so hopefully late night traffic problems will not be as bad as anticipated.
Photo by gimmeahug

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  • “And then Saturday night around 2:30am, my boyfriend and I tried to get a cab home… 4 in a row refused us”

    Errr – they can’t do that. Man up.

  • Well if one lived in a desirable neigborhood like Greenpoint instead of slumming it in BH or PS one would have no problem in having taxi drivers taking the midtown tunnel or Queensboro’ bridge.

  • Umm… wait… when did they start ACCEPTING fares to Brooklyn?

    If you hint that you’re going to Brooklyn before getting in, you’re an idiot.

  • To quote *rob*:


  • “Well if one lived in a desirable neigborhood like Greenpoint instead of slumming it in BH or PS one would have no problem in having taxi drivers taking the midtown tunnel or Queensboro’ bridge.”

    ugh – i’ve tried this (from uptown) and i always get confused around queensboro plaza (to get to the pulaski) – of course the cabbie plays dumb.

  • “Last week we covered the four-year long plan to close Manhattan bound trains on the Brooklyn Bridge during from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays, from midnight to 7 a.m. on Saturdays and from midnight to 9 a.m”

    Darling, there are no trains on the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan-bound or otherwise.

  • 20 years ago it was much worse at any time of day. And as Tybur points out, don’t tell ’em where you’re going until you’re in the cab.

  • It’s quite simple, really. You don’t tell them where you are going until you get in. Then you refuse to get out, as they are not allowed to say they won’t take you somewhere within the City.

  • I agree w/ tybur6… Just get in and then tell them where they are going. I have never been refused.

  • I ran into Manhattan around 7AM Sunday morning, as I wanted to do my Every Storefront on the Mosque Block photo project. I went thru the tunnel but came back over the bridge. Really weird driving on the off ramp and on the ‘wrong’ side of the bridge!

  • Just get in and tell them where to go. If they argue don’t give them a tip.

  • DH – if you get confused at Queensboro plaza get out the cab there, and head to one of the numerous strip joints there to consider your next move.

  • agreed, denton. coming home over the bk bridge on wed night, both my cab driver and i audibly held our breath and then sort of giggled as we drove onto the off ramp. he was a nice guy, btw, and didn’t give me a hard time about going to bk at all. that said, it took much longer than normal to get over the bridge. annoying. also mildly claustrophobic to have high metallic walls on either side of you while stuck in traffic on a bridge…

  • only yuppies and tourists take taxis.

  • I agree with Tybur6. Get in the cab first, then tell them where you are going. They cannot refuse. If they try to do so, tell them that you will report them to the TLC.

    I always like to watch the reaction of the cabby when I tell him “I’m going to 3rd Street…… Brooklyn”. Usually their shoulders visibly slump.

  • Besides, I take the Williamsburg Bridge.

  • I always take a taxi if I leave work after 9pm, otherwise it takes way too long to get home. The G-train after 9 is not the commuter’s friend.

  • it is pretty hilarious when you think about it: people are spending millions of dollars to buy houses in neighborhoods where cab drivers refuse to take them. Only in New York.

  • Took a cab home Saturday night at 12.30am, no problem at all. I never tell the cabbie where I’m going until I’m in anyway, whether I’m going to Brooklyn, or within Manhattan. Hopefully this won’t be an issue generally. From what I saw on the Brooklynian thread, it is an issue for taxis on the way back to Manhattan, getting to Bklyn seems to be ok via the Manhattan Bridge.

  • dibs, I recently discovered taking the Williamsburg bridge is faster to Crown Heights depending on what part of Manhattan I hop a taxi in.

  • OK Minard…. Finally, something I totally agree with you about! It’s hilarious.

  • you can get to most areas of brownstone brooklyn pretty quickly from the williamsburg bridge. just have them get on the BQE or go down Kent. might be a bit more expensive, but beats sitting in traffic.

  • What exactly are the people who were refused doing, opening the door, leaning in and saying “Brooklyn?” and they shake their heads no?

  • “What exactly are the people who were refused doing, opening the door, leaning in and saying “Brooklyn?” and they shake their heads no?”

    I’m guessing on Friday/Saturday nights cabbies are pulling the whole off-duty light thing, and asking everyone where they are going before they will unlock the doors.

  • This has happened to me twice. In each case, the cabbie locks the door, rolls down the front passenger side window and asks where you’re going. As soon as you say Brooklyn, they say no and drive away. I told one cabbie (who was at a red light when I tried to get in) that I was going to report him to the TLC and he said go ahead. I started the process by calling 311, but it would’ve meant going before the TLC and by the time I got the complaint form weeks later I couldn’t be bothered.

  • from brooklyn heights/cobble hill it is pretty easy to catch the Manhattan Bridge back into Manhattan but I guess the cabbies suspect, probably correctly, that there will be back ups. fortunately the bike lanes will be open in both directions for those of us who like to ride our bikes late at night after the theater, dinner and drinks.

  • Cabs to BK were a problem about 10-15 years ago. These days I can catch a cab to BK and catch yellow cabs back to Manhattan fairly easily. Don’t talk to cabbies until you are in the car, this is not London. If you do come across a cabbie who refuses to take you somewhere in the city, please do all of us a favor and report him/her to the TLC (they are very responsive usually.) If the cab driver starts to bitch about where he’s going, ask him not to, it’s your right. Keep your phone out in view, so that they can see that you can easily take photos and videos of their indiscretions. And, don’t forget, if you had a good ride, please tip generously (or don’t tip at all, if the driver was a pain in the ass.) Cab service has improved tremendously in the last couple of decades, but it is still worse than in any other major city.

  • Yeah, you just get in and then tell them you are going to BK – case closed
    I’ve never been refused and I always give a good tip plus tell them ways to get back to the city where they can pick up a fare on the way back
    plus I always tell them to take the BBT as I live closer to the BBT than the bridges

  • what do you guys typically give cab drivers for a tip?

  • The biggest gripe I have about cabs is NO FUCKING AIR CONDITIONING. Why can I always get Ac in Hong Kong, Bangkok and every other third world place I visit but oftentimes NOT IN NYC????

    No tip.

  • haha dave – you don’t tip? seriously?

  • Well for a cabride to BK that costs $20 – I will give him $5-$6
    but around the city – I give $2-$3

    the thing about cabs is this: they rent the car for $200 a day from the TLC or wherever they get their cab from so once they make that $200 back every dollar is theirs to keep

  • BTW if any one is interested. The cab driver rents the car from either a cab company or an owner-driver(they are required to send out the car at least two shifts a day). The charge for this is between $125-250 plus gas. The fee is set by the NYCTLC. This is know as horse-hire(you hire the horse for the day for your hack). so until the cab driver has made $150-$200 they haven’t earned one cent. They also have to pay a fee for the credit card swipes. But for the most part credit card use has increased tips. and they have to pay for the tolls charges on their ezpass(also required by the TLC).
    When I drove a cab it was different. The owners paid for everything(gas too) and you kept 50%(about) of the meter and all the tips… so you made money on your first fare.

  • The point is that the AC doesn’t actually work. And no… no AC = no tip. Otherwise, I tip pretty well.

  • smeyer, thanks for the info. I’ve had this explained to me once before by a cabbie and it made me more sensitive to them when I’d have them take me back to Bklyn late at night where they were unlikely to get another fare going back to Manhattan, so I made sure to give a big tip. Too many riders feel like the cabbie should be happy/lucky to get their fare, and wont tip (as some comments above state) if the driver is so much as cranky.

  • They’ve made their own bed vis-a-vis Brooklyn! There are PLENTY of people living here. There are PLENTY of people going to dinner and going to bars here…. The difference?! Yellow Cabs have refused to serve Brooklyn for soooo long that people don’t even bother with them here. And STILL, most of the cabs on busy streets like Smith etc are just aching to get back to Manhattan. I find it very hard to believe that cabbies couldn’t make money serving Brooklyn.

  • drivers shouldn’t be cranky. Its the luck of the draw sometimes you get perfect fares all night. some nights its just terrible. That is the way it is. Those are the rules that they have accepted. I suspect if you complain, it will cost them much more taking you. A refusal to carry someone(other than a drunk) will get you a minimum of a $500 fine and a 3 days suspension I believe.
    Most of the time the a/c works. Its a violation if it doesn’t. they just don’t want to turn it on because it uses somewhat more gas. Again whether its not working or merely their refusal its again another violation…this fine is less- $100.00 I believe.
    If they get more complaints they risk getting their licenses revoked. It also takes them a minimum half a day at the TLC-although that has improved from when it was a day or two.

    I am fairly sure you will see a reminder to the drivers from the TLC…but we shall see.

  • EVERY TIME I get in a cab and say Brooklyn I go through about 3 before i find one that will go. I don’t stick my head in and ask- I sit in the cab and they say NO- I tell them I’ll call the TLC and that I’m taking down their name and number but they don’t care. If I happen to be in the city late enough that I have to take a cab it usually means I’m wasted and in no condition to call 311 let alone take down his information and the cabbies know this. But they will catch me on the wrong night at some point and that is when I will follow through with the complaint I’ll even record it on my cell phone for proof- but what will happen? will they get a fine? will they lose the right to drive a cab? This is a huge issue that has been going on forever.

  • Heres what I do, I wait to get in and then tell them where – if they refuse at that point (it does happen) I tell them to take me to the nearest police precinct – they always go to Brooklyn after that.
    If they drive like assholes and are angry the rest of the trip – no tip for you; if they are reasonable, I explain that I know it sucks but thats life, and I need to get home. And I give a nice tip (which I would do no matter)

    If the cabbies pull the door lock/windows down ‘where you going’ I just say “downtown” or something vague like that, then follow the above.

    Minard – cabbies wont generally drive to Sands Point or Scarsdale either….not sure I get your point.

  • I’ve lived in downtown Brooklyn for almost 24 years and I can tell you that I’ve been refused or been told that the credit card machine doesn’t work and that I have to pay in cash (which is by the way illegal).

    Once you report a cab driver to the TLC, they need to you send in a physical form to verify the statement you made over the phone. Then they call the cab driver in for a disciplinary hearing which could revoke their cab license for several months or have it taken away completely if they’ve already had infractions. In most cases they face a fine.

  • If you are wasted, they don’t have to take you….otherwise its a fine, suspension and a possible revocation.

    here are all the rules and the fine schedule as well…

  • I want to make sure Brownstoner readers know that Taxi and Limousine Commission rules REQUIRE taxi drivers to honor all requests for service within the five boroughs, no matter what the destination (yes, even from Manhatttan to Brooklyn!). In fact, TLC rules prohibit drivers from asking a passenger where s/he is going before the passenger gets into the car, so as to prevent refusals. Violation of these rules is punishable by a fine, and repeated violation is punishable by license suspension or revocation.

    Yes, I do know that despite the rules, it is not uncommon for drivers to refuse service to Brooklyn. We have a small number of “secret shoppers” doing enforcement to prevent this. But the best way to change driver behavior is for passengers to report violations when they occur. If you are refused service to Brooklyn, PLEASE call 311 and report the incident. We will follow up by issuing a summons to the driver. If the driver contests the summons, there is a hearing in “taxi court” – but we permit passengers to testify at these hearings by telephone, so it needn’t be an inconvenience.


    David Yassky

  • David —

    This sounds fine… but I reported a refusal of service about a year and a half ago (Taxi refusing to drive me Brooklyn to Brooklyn) because he wanted a return-to-Manhattan fare. Unsurprisingly, he clicked on the “off duty” light when I told him I was calling 311.

    ANYWAY — I received the letter from T&LC and it said that I was REQUIRED to ATTEND a hearing for it to move forward. This doesn’t sound like what you say above? Or this is definitely NOT clear in the letter I received.

    I couldn’t take time off work to appear, so I didn’t pursue this.

  • the telephonic hearing rules are relatively new.

    This may have occurred before the rule was effective.

  • BTW if the cab driver pleads as a defense that his/her identity is an issue,(that he or she wasn’t there it was someone else) then a personal appearance may be required….

  • smeyer is (as always) correct — the telephone rules are new. He is also correct that drivers sometimes claim that they were not actually driving the cab at the time of the refusal — but since they are required to input their “hack number” into the computer, this means claiming that someone else used their hack number — and then it is up to the judge to decide who to believe.

  • LOL I bet there are a number of people who don’t believe it.


  • Just to clarify what smeyer mentioned earlier about penalties for service refusal, they are appropriately serious. The penalty upon conviction for a first offense is a range fine of $200-$350; a second offense within 24 months is $350-$500 and a possible 30-day suspension. Three offenses within 36 months equals mandatory license revocation. These penalties are an effective deterrent….provided that people take the few moments necessary to call 311 or visit to file a complaint. As Commissioner Yassky points out, it is now even more convenient to report this or any violation that requires a hearing, thanks to the innovation of participation in the consumer process via telephone!

  • I hope it’s an offense to let someone else use your hack number…. seems like that defense would (hopefully) just end up with another.

  • BTW if you are interested in seeing what the traffic looks like this shows most of the areas DOT cameras..,183,223,135,138,134,204

    and traffic right now on the BB east bound and the Manhattan Bridge west bound is lite…

  • I would love to get one of these crappy cabbies in court- I would take off from work for a whole week if I had to testify against these guys! Next time it happens I’m going to video tape it while I’m in the cab- I will record him telling me that he wont drive to Brooklyn and that he doesn’t care if I call 311. I will record his picture and license and all relative material and I will record his cab and cab number while he’s driving away. I would love to see the look on the guys face when he sees all that evidence before him in court- Could he face perjury charges if he says it wasn’t him and then my video tape prooves it?