How to get a taxi from JFK Airport to Manhattan

Where can I find a yellow taxi at JFK Airport?

Welcome to New York. You have arrived at JFK airport and now you ask yourself: “How to get a taxi from JFK Airport to Manhattan”? Taxis in New York City are painted yellow and have their license number (called medallion number) displayed on their rooftop. At JFK airport, taxis are located outside the terminals. All terminals except terminal 8, have the taxi line right outside by the curbside outside the terminals. Only terminal 8 has the taxi line located outside across the street.

Always there is a taxi dispatcher onsite to assist passengers with any questions. He will ask you your destination and may hand you a piece of paper to give to your driver. The dispatcher is an authorized employee working in the airport to ensure that taxi drivers are following regulations and assist passenger with any information. The dispatcher also will give you with an estimate price, if your destination is a location that the flat fee does not apply. More on that later.

There is a four passengers (five in minivans) limit for New York City cabs. If your party is five people, then you should talk to the taxi dispatcher to assign you a mini van.

How much it cost?

All taxis charge a flat fare to any destination in Manhattan. Since Manhattan is the most popular destination, most likely you will pay a flat fare. The flat fare is $52.00 and does not include any tolls and fees. Even though there is a flat fare, you should expect to pay more for your trip. As we mentioned above the flat fare does not include any tolls and fees. When you travel to Manhattan your driver may take a tolled bridge or tunnel, depending on traffic and your destination. The driver will pay the tolls and it will added to your fare. There are few bridges that do not charge tolls but because it takes more time always the drivers select to take a tolled tunnel or bridge.

So how much are the tolls and fees?

Flat Fare: $52.00
MTA State Surcharge $0.50
Improvement Surcharge $0.30
Rush hour surcharge (4pm to 8pm weekdays, excluding legal holidays) $4.50
New York State Congestion Surcharge $2.50
Tolls – (Queens Midtown Tunnel or Triborough (Robert F. Kennedy Bridge) $6.12
Total Fare would be $61.42 or 65.92 between 4pm to 8pm weekdays

Are Taxis Safe?

I have come to realize that many passengers avoiding taking a taxi because they believe that taxis are not safe. When I asked them why they believe that, they don’t have any hard evidence but usually they relay what they might have seen in the movies or heard stories.

Crime and specially homicide is in the lowest in the last 70 years. New York City is considered to be a very safe city. New York is the biggest city in the US with a population of 8.5 million people. On top of the people who live in New York, if you add also the 63 million tourist that visit New York annually, then it is safe to assume that New York is safe.

Overall transportation and taxi sector are extremely safe with a low risk of crime. I have been living in New York for the last 30 years and I feel safe taking the subway or taxi anytime during the day.

All taxi drivers have to take a medical exam in order to be declared fit to safely operate a motor vehicle. What that means is that the applicant is of sound physical condition with good eyesight and no epilepsy, vertigo, heart trouble or any other infirmity of body or mind to the extent that it would render the applicant unfit for the safe operation of a licensed vehicle at all times of the day.

New York City taxi drivers must take a drug test and submit fingerprints for background check. Also all taxi drivers are required to complete a 6 hour Defensive Driving Course in order to obtain knowledge and techniques for the safe operation of a motor vehicle. TLC requires all new driver applicants and existing drivers to complete a Defensive Driving Course.

Finally all taxi drivers must complete the 24 hour Driver’s Education course and pass an 80-question multiple choice exam on a computer with a grade of 70% or higher. Finally all taxi drivers must watch a Sex Trafficking Awareness Training.

To summarize all New York City taxi drivers must take a medical test, a drug test, submit fingerprints for background check, complete a 6 hour Defensive Driving Course, complete a 24 hour Driver’s Education course. In general New York City has one of the strictest regulations in the country to ensure passenger’s safety.

How long does a ride form JFK airport to Manhattan last?

The duration of the trip can vary but on average the trip can take from 45 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on time and traffic conditions. Usually the hours between 7:30am and 9:30am and then from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm considered to be rush hour going to New York City. On an average day during weekdays, make sure you allocate at least one hour for trip. Usually on weekends traffic tends to be lighter but sometimes street closure in New York can make the trip slower.

Anything interesting on the road?

The route to Manhattan is most of the time boring with nothing to see. You will pass through the Queens neighborhoods of South Jamaica following by Kew Gardens to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. One of the city’s most iconic parks, and the site of two twentieth century World’s Fairs, Flushing Meadows Corona Park continues to draw and delight visitors. On your right hand side you will see two of the park’s lakes. Continuing you will go through Rego Park and Maspeth where you will go over the Calvary Cemetery. Calvary Cemetery has the largest number of interments of any cemetery in the United States; it is also one of the oldest cemeteries in the United States. From that point you will get your first view of the New York City skyline for few minutes before you enter the Queens Midtown Tunnel, where it will take you to Manhattan.

What if I lost an item in a taxi?

A taxi driver who finds an item should try to return it to the owner if possible. If they can’t, they are required to take it to one of eight Police Lost and Found Centers. If you lost something in the taxi during your trip, and you know the medallion number (the taxi license, which is four letters and numbers) you can visit site to locate the taxi’s garage and get in touch with them. Enter the medallion number and you will find the garage information.

How can I file an official complaint with authorities?

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (or TLC as it is known) oversees all of New York’s 13,500 taxis. Each taxi receives comprehensive safety and emissions inspections by TLC and must be driven by TLC-licensed drivers that have undergone background checks and passed TLC education requirements as described in the previous section.
If you have encounter any problem during your ride, there are many ways to file a complaint:

You can file a complaint online by going to the 311 portal on the web at and type “taxi” in the search bar. You can select the option that better fits your complaint. In case you will need the medallion number (the taxi license, which is four letters and numbers) to complete your complaint. You can find that number on the side door, on the roof of the taxi or on your receipt. It is a good idea to make sure your get a receipt and keep it in a safe place.

After you file a complaint, you will be contacted by one of TLC’s prosecutors who will investigate your complaint. If your complaint involves the breaking our rules and regulations, TLC will send the accused a notice that they have violated our rules. In the event that the accused does not plead guilty, they are entitled by law to a fair hearing where they can defend themselves against any charges. TLC will set up this hearing at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, here in New York City. You may testify at the hearing by phone or in person if you choose to do so.

Keypoints - Things to remember

  • Taxis at JFK Airport charge a flat fare of $52 for trips between the airport and Manhattan. Taxis impose a $4.50 surcharge during peak hours (4-8 p.m. weekdays, excluding holidays), for a fare of $56.50.
  • There is also a NY State tax of 50 cents added to trips within New York, but not for trips to NJ.
  • One fare pays for all passengers to one destination.
  • Four passengers (five in minivans) is the limit for New York City cabs.
  • The on-screen rate message should read “Rate #2- JFK Airport.”
  • Only Yellow Taxis are the only vehicles licensed to pick up street-hailing passengers anywhere in NYC.
  • Yellow Taxis charge standard metered fares for all street hail trips.
  • Taxis are easily identified by their yellow color, taxi “T” markings, and medallion license numbers on the roof and sides of the vehicle.
  • Remember to take your receipt at the end of your trip. Your receipt lists the medallion license number, which can help easily identify your trip if you have any issue such as leaving a bag or other belonging inside the vehicle.
  • Please take your receipt.
  • Tipping is customary for good service.

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