Our semi-regular In Defense Of… feature returns today with Bwog daily editor Eliza Shapiro’s look at a New Yorker’s favorite guilty pleasure and a subject of much debate amongst college students with limited funds: the taxi ride.
Yeah, we know cabs are more expensive than the subway and we know there’s a recession. We read the paper, too. But cab-users don’t like being chastised for their choices. If we decide to bite the bullet and take a taxi, there was probably a good reason for it. Yes, occasionally, taking a taxi is a truly defensible endeavor. Learn to cab smart and semi-economically. Here’s how.
First of all, let’s not assume that cabs are always the preferred means of transportation around New York City. Some — mostly the claustrophobic and the elderly — prefer the bus for its views and the fact that you will never get off a bus more than two blocks away from where you want to go. The train is fast, indeed sometimes faster than a taxi, and you get to stare at a lot of interesting people and have some people stare at you. Also, nothing will ever compare to that wonderful little thrill you get when the train goes above ground. And, of course, walking is always nice. Keep your New Year’s resolution and walk off those love handles, Columbia.
Truly, there are many ways to get around our fair city, and none more controversial than the taxi ride. Basically, if you want to avoid ridicule, don’t take a cab if it’s the middle of the day and you have no where to be urgently. Don’t take a cab if you’re a little bit lost. Subway maps exist. If, however, it’s the weekend and the 2 train you’re on somehow ends up in Queens because the conductor failed to tell you that it’s suddenly becoming the F for a few hours, you can throw up your hands and take a cab. The New York City subway system on the weekend has a devilish mind of its own and, if it’s the beginning of the month and there are a few extra bucks in your bank account, go for it.
If you are trying to decide when it’s truly worth it to take a cab, it’s better to go for the extremes. First of all, have three pals with you at all times. If there are four of you and you’re going a very short distance and it’s really cold outside or you’re really late, a ten or fifteen-block taxi ride split among friends really won’t be much more than a Metrocard swipe. It can also be truly worth it to take a cab back from an evening downtown. This can also be a legitimate safety issue– it never hurts to keep an emergency $20 in your wallet when you’re stranded at Washington Square at 4 in the morning. Also, from most places in Manhattan, your share of a four-person ride won’t be more than the overpriced Brooklyn Lager you probably paid for while you were scoping out NYU kids. Skip the last beer and enjoy your ride back to campus, as long as you turn off the seizure-inducing Eyewitness News TV first.