WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Newer Uptown residents who prefer cabs with metered fares over livery cars have made Northern Manhattan one of the most popular pickup spots for the city's new outer-borough taxis, though some longtime residents say they are sticking with liveries.
The neighborhood has long been a difficult place to find a yellow cab, so residents usually relied on livery cars, which charge flat fees that are often open to negotiation.
With the launch of the city's Boro Taxi program — which deluged the streets of Washington Heights and Inwood with bright green cabs that offered the same rates as yellow taxis — many of the area's newer residents switched their loyalty to the green cabs, preferring the reliability of metered fares, the flexibility of street hails and the convenience of paying with credit cards.
“[I had] a couple bad experiences with getting way over-charged for trips and not having any accountability in terms of a meter,” said Adam Young, 33, who moved to Washington Heights two years ago and said he takes a green cab about once a month, but never livery cars.
“I’d rather go with something with accountability.”
Uptown residents' enthusiasm for the green cabs has made the area one of the busiest pickup spots across the five boroughs.
Out of the nearly 18,000 green cab trips on June 24, 2014, the most recent day for which data is available, 6 percent started in Washington Heights and Inwood, according to data obtained by DNAinfo New York through a Freedom of Information Law request. The neighborhood was second only to East Harlem, Central Harlem and Hamilton Heights, which saw more than 18 percent of all trips that day.
However, some longtime Uptown residents told DNAinfo that they aren't rushing to try the new green cabs.
“Those with experience are wiser,” said Raldy Bautista, 30, who grew up in Washington Heights and said livery cabs are less expensive than green taxis. “You know it should only cost $7 for local rides, so you know how to get a cheaper ride."
Dina Harris, who has lived in upper Harlem for 53 years, takes any kind of cab that comes, but agreed that liveries are cheaper.
“When you take the livery you get a flat rate,” Harris said. “With the green [taxi] you have all the extra fees on there.”
Many newer Uptown residents, though, said it was not worth the stress of arguing over the livery fare.
“I do not like to haggle with livery cabdrivers,” said Felicia Di Salvo, who moved to Inwood from Soho in 2008 and said she feels safer in yellow or green cabs then in livery cabs.
“I don’t feel comfortable with livery cabs because I don’t know if they are legal drivers or someone out on the street to make some extra money using their own car,” Di Salvo added. "[I] love knowing that I can hail a metered cab in my neighborhood.”
One green cab driver who used to drive a livery cab said he's noticed a trend in his fares Uptown.
"It's mostly newer people who moved here in the last five years," the driver, who declined to give his name, said of his green cab customers. "They move up from Downtown because it's too expensive. They like the green cab because it's a meter; you pay with the credit card. It's much better."
Christina Correa, a teacher who has lived Uptown for 12 years, definitely appreciates the credit card feature, but said she still uses livery cabs as well.
“It depends on whether I have cash in my pocket,” she said. “If I do, I take a livery. I feel like I owe it to them because they were here first.”