Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reggie's Rules for Navigating One's Way Around Manhattan Like a New Yorker, Part III

Following on my last essay in this series, in which I discussed Reggie's Rules for Taking Taxis In and Around New York, today's post focuses on a more comfortable and luxurious type of aboveground transportation available to savvy New Yorkers and visitors "in the know," namely livery cars.

This is the type of Lincoln Town Car that was available
for hire when I first moved to Manhattan, in 1980.
One of the most popular colors then was metallic blue

There are times when it is neither possible nor advisable to take a taxi in New York.  For instance, it is virtually impossible to get a taxi between 4 pm and 5 pm, during the evening's pre-rush hour shift change.  There are also times when one would prefer to ride around town without a meter ticking away, or when one desires more personalized service than a taxi can provide.  Fortunately, New York has many livery car services stocked with late model luxury cars available for hire with just a simple phone call, and which are a more pleasant—albeit more expensive—alternative to taxis.

Herewith are Reggie's Rules For Taking Livery Cars In and Around New York:

1.  When you are standing waiting to hail a taxi and none are to be found, don't be afraid to take a roaming livery car if one pulls over and offers you a ride

Livery drivers in New York earn extra money between assignments by giving rides to pedestrians who haven't hired them through a dispatcher.  They are not looking to abscond with you or rob you—they are looking for a fare.  The driver will usually cut you a deal, too, since these are off-the-books cash transactions.

This is the standard Lincoln Town Car available for hire today
in New York City.  Almost all of them are limousine black

2.  Always negotiate the fare before getting into a roaming town car

You don't have much bargaining power once you are sitting in the back seat.

3.  Hire a car and driver to pick you up after attending the theater

It is almost always impossible to find a taxi after the shows let out in the theater district or in front of the Metropolitan Opera.  Call ahead of time and find our when the performance ends and arrange to have a car and driver waiting outside to whisk you away to your destination.  It's a lot better than battling the hordes for a taxi.

One needn't be confined to American cars when engaging a
car and driver in New York.  European luxury cars are available too

4.  When attending events during the evening in out of the way places or where you can't be assured of finding a taxi, consider hiring a car and driver

If we are attending a black-tie party in some remote place, like the Chelsea Piers, or attending a performance in another borough, such as at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, I will hire a car and driver to take us there and pick us up at the end of the evening.  It is a most pleasant way to travel, particularly when dressed formally, and one is assured of having one's transportation ready and waiting for one when one wants it.

There are times when one prefers a larger, roomier
livery car, such as the Cadillac Escalade or a
Lincoln Navigator, or a Chevrolet Suburban.
All are available for hire in New York

5.  Hire a car and driver when going to and from the airport

This is a luxury well worth indulging in if you can at all afford to do so, and is a far more pleasant means of transportation than a taxi when leaving and re-entering the city on a trip or vacation.  Engaging a car and driver ahead of time alleviates any concerns about finding a taxi, and livery cars charge flat rates for airport drop-offs and pickups, so you know what the fare is going to be ahead of time.  Finally, livery cars provide door-to-door service, so one needn't struggle with one's luggage as one does when taking other forms of transportation.

And so there you have it: Reggie's Rules for Taking Livery Cars In and Around New York.  Although Reggie acknowledges that engaging a car and driver requires extra forethought and planning, and having sufficient room on one's credit cards to pay for such premium services, he believes that doing so is well worth the extra effort and cost when compared with other forms of transportation in the city, at least under the circumstances he has outlined in this essay.

But there are other, less expensive and—at times—more efficient means of getting around town in New York than either taxis or livery cars, which is the subject of the next installment in this series.

Next:  Reggie's Rules For Taking Buses and Subways In and Around New York

Photographs from Google Images


  1. I'd note that while it isn't the most top end of services, those on the a budget can also roam New York (and to and from the City) by using the or 212.777.7777.

    I have found the cards to be clean, timely, and efficient, albeit dated and sometimes a little worse for wear. But, it's affordable.

  2. Shortly after the financial crisis in '08/'09, I went to visit my children in NY city. It was my first visit to JFK so they suggested I take a taxi to my hotel instead of dealing with the public transportation. Upon arriving, a very nice young man asked me if I'd like to take a Lincoln Town Car into the city and since his cost was the same as a taxi, I took him up on his offer. It was a very pleasant ride, the driver was quite nice and I didn't think anything of it. Well! You should have heard my daughter when I told her about it; she acted as though I was lucky not to have been kidnapped and held for ransom. I can't wait to tell her to read this so she'll realize I'm not quite as crazy as she seems to think.

    Thanks for another informative post.

  3. More excellent advice...which one has come to expect from this Blog...Cheers.

  4. Hello. I just discovered your lovely blog today and am enjoying reading all of your past posts, especially the one on lilacs, which I also love. When I click on the photo for an Autumn black tie dinner at Darlington House Part II, I get a mysterious message that says: "Internet Explorer has modified the page to help prevent cross-site scripting." I've never experienced this message before when trying to click on a link. I'd really love to read about Part II, but can't seem to find it. Could the page have disappeared? Or is it possible to locate it by the date? Any help would be appreciated.

  5. Excellent advice, as always-- I'm so glad we finally convinced my in-laws that hiring a car, pre-arranged, to the airport was so much more sensible than trying to hail a cab, in a panic, on the street.

  6. You may be so horrified you may not publish this......and since it is your blog......that is your choice!

    I took my daughter (she was 39 or so; my granddaughter who was 6 or so; and we saw "the Lion King 5 years ago!

    Never had my granddaughter been in NYC........The play was breathtaking......and when we came out only a pedicab was available!

    "Welcome to my bike" we had the most exciting ride ever.....across Manhattan......and when we arrived at the "river Club" what a treat.

    they had never seen a pedicab!

    It was a total thrill.....and I don't think I have ever had more fun in my entire life........

    My dear friend David Patrick Columbia says I am lucky to be alive!

    Just loved it.....not recommending it!


  7. I got a chuckle from Chelsea Piers being considered a remote location. The bus across town is not far away, but I do catch your drift. The Javits Center is worse, and definitely worth hiring a car for. I found that it was about the same amount of money to hire a car to the airport, especially La Guardia, as struggling with a cab. Honestly though, I am quite happy to have moved south and not have to deal with any of it, and claim the incredibly clean, spacious and well designed airport at Hilton Head as my own.

  8. DAM: Thank you for your comment. Yes, there are certainly various levels of luxury and price points available when it comes to engaging livery car services in New York. One has more choices than one might initially think, as you helpfully point out.

    Sarah: The taxi commission instituted flat fares from JFK a decade or so ago because the metered rates on taxis were more expensive than livery cars' flat rates, and therefore uncompetitive. Most livery drivers looking for fares at the airport I believe are attempting to cover their return trips back to the city, versus having more nefarious intentions when picking up their unwitting passengers...

    MLS and Tess: Why, thank you!

    Jeannie: Thank you and welcome. I have unfortunately had to take down a handful of posts here on my blog, such as the one you note, but will be re-posting them at some point in the future. If you stay tuned, you will ultimately learn why...

    Anon 9:33: You got it!

    penelopebianchi: What a fun ride you must have had! I once took a pedicab when no "real" ones were available, and it was most enjoyable, and a little bit frightening too as one did feel rather vulnerable if there had been an accident. Fortunately there wasn't, and it was all rather exciting!

    Hello Dandy: Happy to provide a chuckle every now and then. Yes, you are correct, the JC is so remote as to almost be in New Jersey! I've been stranded there once or twice over the years. At the JC, that is...

  9. My Father came to NY years ago for the Food Show and took one of the last Checker Cabs known as "le Taxi" and Fritz the driver became my go to cab to and from the airport. After our twins were born, he brought us home from NY Hospital - his treat. I think having one's own sort of transport connection makes life in NY much more joyful. Getting there can be more fun and less stressful.

  10. One of the great discoveries of my young life (just so you know how long ago this discovery was), was that it was barely more expensive, and considerably pleasanter when visiting Manhattan to engage a car to and from the airport (life's lessons have always been incremental for me). I had a regular favorite, and the car was a Cadillac Seville, with seriously tufted seats.

  11. I'm glad you'll be talking about the subways of Manhattan, as they are a joy and the chosen system the vast majority of NYers of all classes use to travel the city. I must admit I prefer MTA trains to any other system of transportation, save ferries and boats, so it is always one of my greatest pleasures to use them when in the city.

    I suppose growing up in Chicago I may be predisposed to enjoy public trains, as the CTA is another great marvel of the civilized world (and with a better view, too).

  12. Cab or Taxi service is an easy mode of traveling to or from Airport.

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