taxifare.jpgEarlier this week we wrote about Taxi '07, the weeklong celebration commemorating the 100th birthday of the taxi. In addition to taxi-themed movies, the Empire State Building illuminated taxi yellow, and future taxis at the New York International Auto Show, the Taxi and Limousine Commission is unveiling new door-side graphics that will become standard on all NYC yellow cabs.

"Our taxicabs will be getting a makeover with graphics that communicate passenger information in a better and more uniform way," Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman Matthew Daus said.

Cabs will be emblazoned with new "NYC Taxi" logos as well as new markings detailing the fares.

Instead of spelling out all the fares and surcharges, the new design, which includes an icon of a person hailing a cab, simplifies the rates as "$2.50 initial fare + Time & Distance 40¢ per unit."

"A unit" in taxi-speak is equivalent to 1/5 of a mile when travelling faster than 6 m.p.h. or one minute when travelling slower than 12 m.p.h. or stuck in bumper-to-bumper hell. This page from the T&LC has all sorts of useful information about taxi rates, like who pays for tolls, maximum fares, and travelling with multiple passengers.

Update: So much for clarification. The information we gave about the definition of travel units in relation to speed or time comes directly from the T&LC page at the site. As one commentor pointed out with a rhetorical question, these guidelines would seem to cause more confusion than clarify things for passengers. So we called 311 to find out what the real story with rates is. According to the very helpful person that answered our questions, a unit is 1/5 of a mile when travelling faster than 12 m.p.h. and 60 seconds when traveling slower than 12 m.p.h. At exactly 12 m.p.h., one travels 1/5 of a mile in 60 seconds so there is no difference either way. The net result is that your cab driver will never drive a passenger for less than a rate of $24/hr and someone at the T&LC needs to correct the information on its site.

(Crown Victoria Taxi Doors, by Triborough at flickr)