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San Francisco Taxi Tips

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© Ingrid Taylar

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 don’t 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 driver’s 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. It’s definitely a time to channel your inner New Yorker.

Popular tourist areas like Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square have a greater concentration of cabs than do outlying areas of the city. If you can’t hail a cab on the street, try the nearest major hotel for a taxi queue.

See: Map of San Francisco Taxi Stands

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. It’s an issue the city is addressing, although some locals believe the system needs more work.

Taxi Fares

  • 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.

Tipping

Tip 15 to 20 percent of the total fare.

Taxi Cab Companies

The following are some major taxi companies in San Francisco. For a complete list and identifying photos of each legitimate company, see the Taxi Commission’s website. The website also lists taxi companies with wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Arrow Cab Company
(415) 648-3181

DeSoto Cab Company
(415) 970-1300

Luxor Cab Company
(415) 282-4141

Metro Cab Company
(415) 920-0700

Yellow Cab
(415) 333-3333

Veterans Cab Company
Main: 415-648-4119

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