Taxis and cabs are becoming more common in smaller cities and towns across the country, and might be a practical way to get to work, home, or other desired destinations. With attention being paid to energy conservation and ways to reduce associated vehicular costs in urban areas, taxis offer a convenient alternative.

Those new to riding in cabs could benefit from a few basics that may make the transition smoother. Some tips related to common questions of new passengers include the following:

Who to hail?

One of the issues encountered by those trying to hail a ride in a busy region involves getting potential taxis to stop for them when needed. It makes sense to call a dispatcher to reserve a ride, but that is not always offered in some locations. Keep in mind that taxis are much busier in the rain, or during inclement weather. Standing on the curb, holding a hand up high, and shouting will attract their attention, but doesn't always result in a ride to your destination. Pay attention to the lights on top of the cab, as these will indicate if the taxi is available for a fare. When the light is on, typically the cab is up for grabs; when the light is out, they may be occupied and unavailable.   

How much to ride?

Generally, cabs charge a flat rate the moment you get inside. This is typically a couple dollars, regardless of the destination or distance. The meter will then charge an incremental fee based on one-tenth of the mile traveled. One big question posed to many cabdrivers regards making stops along the way to your destination. Stops are fine, and typically expected of those paying fares, but remember that the meter will continue to run and accrue charges during this time. Be prepared to tip. If you are wondering how much to tip, it is common to anticipate an additional twenty percent on top of the total fare for the tip, especially for fast taxi cab service. While tipping is optional, there is an underlying expectation of a tip, particularly if the driver is helping with luggage, bags, or other cargo. In these instances, it is practical to add another dollar per bag for a helpful taxi driver.  

Who to bring?

It is not practical to assume that there are no limits to the number of passengers that can share one cab ride. In fact, some taxi services may assert a per-passenger surcharge for fares over two people. Typically an average cab accommodates up to four passengers. Parties of more than this might want to prearrange or call ahead for special vehicles that will facilitate larger groups. This is also the way to secure vehicles with handicapped accommodations if needed.  

What else to know?

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to practice safety before getting in, and while riding in, any taxi or cab. Before getting inside of the car, be sure car is licensed, and is a legitimate taxi that displays documentation pertaining to this. This may be mounted on the dash, but also pay heed of the cab's number, plate, and signage to determine this information. Be wary of cars with magnetic signage on the doors, or that do not have proper identification displayed for riders. There is a rising concern that hailing cabs electronically, via the internet, is resulting in an increase of fraud and situations of deceptive individuals posing as cabs. Also, pay attention to surroundings when riding in taxis to eliminate the chance of being taken on a long, convoluted route to your destination. Before accusing a driver of such practice, be sure that road closings, weather, or traffic are not the reason for the detour. Most drivers will communicate such modifications in the route to their passengers during the trip.