Cabbies Refusing Brooklyn Fares?

There’s speculation that cab drivers are refusing Manhattan to Brooklyn trips, possibly because of traffic delays caused by work on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Gothamist: Have you been having trouble getting a taxi from Manhattan to Brooklyn recently? The Post has, and if the Post has a problem, them everyone must be having a problem. They set their crack team of hack scientists to canvass lower Manhattan, and found that nearly half the cabbies refused to take them over the bridge, which is currently undergoing infuriatingly extensive renovations. We’re not that surprised, but hell, we have trouble getting cabbies to take us to the right destinations in Brooklyn anytime; once, we hailed a cab in Williamsburg to take us to the south end of Brooklyn Heights, and were dropped off in Prospect Heights.

Has anyone had more than usual difficulty getting cabs to Brooklyn lately?

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  • DrewB

    I’ve had that happen to me a few times over the years and I expect it to increase with this construction. Which is why I never tell cabs I’m going to BKLN until I’m already in the cab. They are required to take you, and it is pretty hard for them to refuse once you get in and refuse to get out. If they still refuse, start calling the TLC from the back of the cab, that usually shuts them up.

  • Homer Fink

    This happens especially during the 4pm changeover time. Yassky needs to aggressively handle the “where you going” culture among cabbies — stopping and asking you where you’re headed before you get into the cab. Yes, it’s against the rules but they don’t care.

  • helloheights

    i took a cab at 2am back in august, unaware that the construction had started on the bridge. (usually take the subway) the trip from the LES to BH was in total 15 minutes – and the cabby, yelled at me during the trip and was so rude! when he dropped me off he literally sped away with screeching tires. he was so enraged i feel like he would have rather dumped us in the east river if he could have.
    sure it was stop and go on the bridge, but it only took 15 minutes!
    it’s a part of driving in new york, you’d think they’d be used to it.

  • Eddy de Lectron

    Over the years, I have encountered many cabbies not wanting to take me to Brooklyn… But I have had a couple of victories too…
    About 3 years ago I hailed a cab in the lower east side. He stopped with his window open only about an inch, asked me where I was going. When I said “Brooklyn” he took off so fast he almost ran over my foot… luckily there was another cab right behind him. The driver of the second cab stopped, let me get in and asked me what happened with the first guy. I told him, to which he suggested I call 311 and report the incident (he was an old school native New York cabbie). The first cab was still ahead of us at a red light so I was able to get the number. I reported it en route to my destination in Williamsburg. I rewarded the driver with a nice tip and he also got a fair returning to to Manhattan.
    About two weeks later I received a form from the TLC, I filled it out and sent it in… about a month later I received a hearing date. I attended the hearing, which only took about an hour. The driver was found guilty and fined $550.00… I’ll bet he never tries to pull that “no Brooklyn” BS anymore…
    Another trick I have used successfully. I shoot a video of the cab pulling over with my cellphone. If the driver asks where I’m going, I tell him he’s being recorded. So far, all but one has then taken me to my destination, albeit begrudgingly. The one who didn’t is awaiting his hearing…

  • julee

    This happens to me at least twice a week – for the most part getting in the cab and then telling them were you are going works but I have had guys sigh , huff, curse and groan the whole way there or tell me that sorry they arent taking me to Brookln. Usually if they ask me where I am going at the curb I go an open their passenger doors and leave them open and just walk away. And I am all about beating nasty people into submission so I will try the tactic of recording them or at least getting their medallion number. But I really couldnt stomach then taking the cab ride. If you are stuck in traffic with them they will make you miserable for it and I am usually alone and I dont see how that would be pleasant.

    For those people asking why we dont just take the train for me that is just not doable as I would need to take three trains to get to my destination and dont get me started on trains.

    I have had cabbies tell me that they just came back from brooklyn and the traffic is awful – I then tell them that they are one, cab drivers and two that if they dont like traffic they should move to Montana. I just dont get that gripe at all – as if Manhattan ran any smoothter. The fare the make going to Brooklyn far exceeds what they make going a few blocks in manhattan not to mention the will almost always catch a fare back into the city on Clinton.

  • Todd Shaffer

    Definitely happened to me before. But, I take little sh*t from anyone, especially when I know the law clearly states “anywhere in the five boroughs.” Generally I get in the cab first before saying where I’m going, but that’s just habit, not technique. If they say “oh, I can’t go to Brooklyn” I just tell the driver the following:

    “You’re required by law to take me anywhere, if you don’t like it we can talk it out with 311, but I’m heading to Williamsburg and there’s a guaranteed fair back over the bridge, so let’s be civil.”

  • T.K. Small

    Tomorrow evening, everyone’s favorite, Commissioner David Yassky is speaking at the Transportation & Public Safety Committee meeting of Community Board 2. The meeting is at 6 PM at St. Francis. I will try to get the exact room number, but security should be able to direct you at the door. I am bringing a litany of complaints and would welcome some dissatisfied voices!

  • Anonymous

    Never happened to me. Not even once. I take cabs about twice a month. I always get in first before telling them my destination, but then again they’ve never asked me before I got in. I guess I’ve just been lucky.

  • T.K. Small

    For years the TLC has been the bane of the disability community. Out of 13,000+ vehicles in NYC there are roughly only 200 wheelchair accessible taxis. These vehicles are almost always the last cars to be taken out on the road, so the actual number of accessible taxis is much lower. On the odd chance when you can actually find one, the drivers routinely pretend not to see you or tell the person in a wheelchair that the ramp is broken. Unfortunately, filing complaints constantly is tedious and time-consuming and most people simply don’t bother.

  • Anonymous

    When I went away to school, I had to return via Grand Central Station, often with heavy luggage. My mother trained me to always get into the cab first, because cabbies were reluctant to travel to Brooklyn. This was in 1965. Just thought I’d let you know how long the problem has been around. I loved the reply from the fellow who reported the cab and won. We did not have 311 in my young days. Fight the good fight, kids, I’m rooting for you.

  • Ari

    I share the same sentiments as the previous posters above.

    However, my strategy has definitely evolved over the years.I typically don’t even bother with the yellow cabs anymore, especially late at night.

    The black cabs, (while they are not supposed to pick up off the curb) are almost always willing to go to BK from Manhattan and almost always negotiate a fair price with me.

    Given the work on the bridge, I always try to come to an agreement on a flat fare without using the meter. (Usually $20 from anywhere below 14th Street).

  • x

    Sometimes late at night it is not safe for solo travelers to take the subway, and taxis are a “safer” option.

  • my2cents

    I always get in before I tell the cabbie my destination. I find that telling them you are writing down their medallion number and reporting them to the TLC usually changes their tune mighty fast when they are giving you BS. If a cab drives off without you, definitely take down the cab number and call 311.

  • epc

    This happens to me about once every three-four months. I’ve posted here before that what I do is snap a photo of the medallion and if I’m fast enough of the driver’s placard, and exit the cab. I don’t always file a complaint with the TLC, but have filed three and sat through one hearing.

    If you’re above Canal (or close enough to Canal) and the driver complains about the Brooklyn Bridge, point out the Manhattan Bridge is perfectly fine, and open, the net difference between the two on the Brooklyn side is less than 1500 feet.

  • justaneighbor

    I’m with “x” – it’s not normally safe for me to come home after a certain hour on the subway, so I hail a cab..and as of late, find myself more often than not taking chances with my life. Cabbies are ENRAGED – and I don’t use that word lightly. I had to report one online the other day who pissed and moaned so badly I had to tell him to stop his whining..his license was partly hidden and he was on the phone the entire time to BK. It’s getting worse by the minute and if the city doesn’t crack down soon, we’re in for one hell of a long construction time.

  • Bob R.

    What happened to: “You won’t take me to Brooklyn? OK. Let’s go to the nearest police precinct.”

  • Eddy de Lectron

    @ epc, taking the Manhattan Bridge from above Canal & east of B’way is a shorter distance to the Heights. That’s why cabbies don’t like that route. I guess once they are committed to a brooklyn trip they wanna milk-it as much as possible…

  • macman5156

    Eddy stole my thunder. Yes, Manhattan Bridge is shorter and usually far less choked with traffic. Always request it and just tell the cabbie where to go.

  • BigDave

    We have taken. many, many cabs from Manhattan to the Heights. We always wait until we get into the taxi before informing the driver about our destination and we always tell him/her the route we wish to go. If they try to argue we either ignore them or ask them to please desist. You all have given good ideas here, though. I will remember the 311 threat and the phone cam pic gambit for any future problems. Thanks!

  • KM

    I actually just testified against a cabbie who wouldn’t take us from Cadman Plaza West to Court Street. SUCH a pain — the event happened 1/2/2010, and I was supposed to first testify (by phone) in June … which was delayed until July… which was delayed until September, when his lawyer was actually fined for not showing up on time and then causing a scene… and then finally happened in October. And… he was fined $200. Big whoop. (Keep in mind at least two lawyers plus a judge and administrative court staff were there the entire time.) There needs to be a WAY better system. Glad I complained and followed it through, but I’m never doing that again.

  • T.K. Small

    It sounds like there are more than enough things to complain about to TLC Commissioner David Yassky. Once again, I remind folks that Yassky will be at the Transportation & Public Safety committee meeting of Community Board 2 tonight at St. Francis.

  • AmyinBH

    When I lived in an even more “remote” part of Brooklyn many taxi drivers would complain all the way there and I found it annoying. Anyone who did not complain would get a good tip because 99% of the time they wouldn’t get a fair back to Manhattan. So, when the time came for a tip I gave then a lot less than I would normally and I didn’t give them directions how to get back to Manhattan. It really changed their tone as they called ever so sweetly out the window asking for directions. I would just pretend not to hear them and run up the building stairs.

    Conversely, about 12 years ago on Halloween a taxi driver asked where I was going before he would unlock the door because he didn’t want to go into Manhattan. He only wanted to stay in Brooklyn.

  • eg

    May I suggest using the Bklyn-Battery Tunnel to avoid congestion on the bridges. When you get to the Bklyn side, bear right and take the short connection to the BQE (says to Atlantic Avenue). You will end up at Atlantic and Hicks, but you can direct the driver from there.

    And, oh yes, there is a $5 surcharge, but can be worth it.

    I , once reported a driver who did not have a working windshield wiper during a heavy downpour. He was sharing a cab with someone else.

  • David

    Bob R – thats what I use and you know what – they always reconsider and take me to Brooklyn even though the precinct is usually much closer.

  • amanda

    Apparently this is happening more and more with the construction going on because the Manhattan bridge is totally backed up with all the overflow traffic trying to get back into Manhattan. One commenter on another blog (can’t remember which one, sorry) said that sometimes cabs are sitting in traffic for 2+ hours just to get back on the bridge. I am all for my rights in getting home safely but I really feel for these guys if they are sitting in traffic for hours without a fare.

    I hope they figure this out soon because I can’t stomach the thought of trying to get home before 11PM to avoid getting yelled at by a cabbie over bridge B.S.

  • Arch Stanton

    @ eg,
    Another caveat on your route. It is a much longer trip going through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel… even if you start your trip right at the tunnel entrance in Manhattan, it is over a mile extra, going to a central Heights destination (as opposed to going over the BB). that combined with the $5.50 toll makes it a rather pricy option… Also depending on the time of day, you might wind up in heavy traffic on the BQE.

  • nabeguy

    T.K., I have a Yassky story for you. I had pulled into the hydrant space in front of Iron Chef while I ran out to Penny Bridge to buy a pack of cigarettes. When I returned to my car, I noticed another car parked literally in the middle of the street, blocking traffic in both directions. Who was driving it? None other than the Taxi Czar himself. I called him out and said “Yo dude, you can’t park in the middle of the street like that”. His response was “Actually, my bigger problem is that I can’t figure out how to turn on my hazard lights”. True story.

  • Jorale-man

    Cabbies have tough jobs and I sympathize with their situation: it’s probably hard to get fares going the other way, from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

    Rather than be confrontational, it’s best to try to work with them and suggest taking the Manhattan Bridge back, where traffic moves faster in general. You can always catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

  • T.K. Small

    That is very funny! I wonder if he has a similar problem in operating an elevator?

  • alanna

    This just happened to me Sunday night. Got in the cab around Mad Sq Park – told him Brooklyn Heights and he snarled and shook his head, saying “no bridge”. I actually did state that if it would be easier I could ask 311 which cab to use and so that changed his tune, but he snarled and then sat in the bridge traffic on his phone the entire time driving like an idiot in and out of lanes where there was a pocket for him to fit. Slamming on his brakes each time.

    I suppose “dems the breaks” of living outside the gleaming island of opportunity but it would be nice if I didn’t have a sinking feeling this construction is going to take place for the next 2 years. Ugh.

    What is the latest anyone would take a train over to Borough Hall stop? I’ve taken it as late as 2-3am…