San Francisco Taxi Basics
San Francisco is touted as a walkable city, and it is. Using MUNI and a good pair of walking shoes, you can cover a lot of terrain. There are times, however, when you dont want to force your 80-year-old mother up California Street on foot. It helps to have a few basic taxi facts.
How to Spot a Real San Francisco Taxi
The San Francisco Taxi Commission advises you to look for the following:
- The words "San Francisco Taxi Cab" on the side and rear of cab
- A small metal license plate on the dashboard
- A drivers ID visible from the backseat
Legitimate San Francisco taxis are insured, and drivers undergo background checks. Security cameras are also mandated in San Francisco cabs.
Lighted Sign = Taxi Available
As in New York and other cities, San Francisco taxis signal their availability by the lighted sign on top of the cab. When the sign is illuminated, the taxi is available.
Note that drivers may have their light on when answering a call for service or when heading off shift. So, you don't have to take it personally if an available cab refuses to stop.
Where to Hail a Taxi
It pays to be aggressive when getting the attention of a cab driver. Its definitely a time to channel your inner New Yorker.
Popular tourist areas like Fishermans Wharf and Union Square have a greater concentration of cabs than do outlying areas of the city. If you cant hail a cab on the street, try the nearest major hotel for a taxi queue.
Phone a Taxi
For less populated areas, make a call to one of the dispatch numbers listed below.
Almost everyone in the city has experienced long wait times and, once in a while, a no-show cab. Its an issue the city is addressing, although some locals believe the system needs more work.
- First 1/5th of a mile: $3.10
- Each additional 1/5th of a mile or fraction thereof: $0.45
- Each minute of waiting or traffic delay: $0.45
- Airport surcharge: $2.00
Passengers pay for bridge tolls.
For distances 15 miles or farther outside the city limits, taxis will charge 150 percent of the metered rate.
Tip 15 to 20 percent of the total fare.
The following are some major taxi companies in San Francisco. For a complete list and identifying photos of each legitimate company, see the Taxi Commissions website. The website also lists taxi companies with wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Arrow Cab Company
DeSoto Cab Company
Luxor Cab Company
Metro Cab Company
Veterans Cab Company