A New York City cab driver tells us the worst time to get a cab

Taxi driver columbia picturesColumbia PicturesRobert De Niro doles out his own advice in this scene from the 1976 classic ‘Taxi Driver.’

Hailing a taxi in New York City at 5 p.m. can be a fruitless task — but it’s not just the influx of people leaving their offices that make it tough to nab a cab.

On a recent post-work cab ride with a colleague, a very chatty taxi driver clued us in to why you might have a hard time finding a cab between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. in Manhattan. Of course, this is just one cabbie’s opinion, but hear it out.

In New York City, there are several types of cabs on the road, our driver explained. Some drivers own their vehicles and set their own hours, but many drivers are “daily drivers,” which means they use pick up a different car to drive each day. These cars are often stored in garages outside of the Manhattan, with several located in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

Daily drivers will work one of two shifts each day, our driver also explained. The first shift runs from around 3 a.m. until 5 p.m., while the second shift starts around 6 p.m. and goes until well after midnight.

This means while you’re holding up your hand on 5th Avenue at 5 p.m. waiting for a cab, many of the daily drivers from the first shift are already done for the day. Meanwhile, the second shift of daily drivers is still en route into the city for the evening, meaning there are fewer total cabs on the road.

So where is the best place to grab a cab during rush hour?

“Go to 59th Street and Second Avenue,” our driver said, referencing the intersection for New York’s Queensboro Bridge. “That’s where all the cabs will be, right there trying to get into the city for the night.”

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