Public taxis are a way of life in most large cities in the United States. Taxis are often convenient to use, and might get you to your destination more quickly than mass transportation like subways, trains, or buses. Another big benefit of taking a taxicab is never having to worry about parking. As many city-goers know all too well, finding a parking spot can be both inconvenient and expensive.
Taxis themselves, however, can get expensive too. Typically, a taxi customer has to pay an initial charge just for getting inside the cab. Then the meter goes up as distance is traveled, typically in fifth-of-a-mile increments. If your cab is stuck in traffic or otherwise delayed, there’s a charge for that, too. Some cities may add peak-time surcharges, bumping up the cost of a ride during rush hours. Any bridge or highway tolls incurred while in the taxi are the responsibility of the passenger, as well. Don't forget that nearly all drivers expect a tip at the end of a ride, which can add another 10 to 20 percent to your total bill, depending on how generous you’re feeling.
So it’s no surprise that using taxis to get around can get expensive. Which city in the United States has the most expensive taxi rides? It must be New York City, right? Wrong. New York is one of the most expensive cities in the United States to live in, but its taxi rides rank only 26th-most expensive in the country for base fares.
According to the fare aggregator TaxiFareFinder, 25 cities have more expensive taxis than New York, based on a sample fare of just under five miles. Sample fares do not include time-of-day surcharges, tolls, or tips.
For New York, this means a sample fare of just $14.50, which comes from a $2.50 initial charge and 50 cents for each fifth-of-a-mile traveled on a hypothetical 4.8 mile trip.
So which cities have the most expensive cabs? You might be surprised to see that smaller cities often beat the major metropolises with pricier taxis. Here are the top ten most expensive U.S. cities to ride a taxi.
10 Hartford, Connecticut: $16.20
Even though it is Connecticut’s state capitol, Hartford is a modestly sized city, with a population of 125,000. Its metropolitan area, however, is significantly larger, with 1.2 million people, or 10 times the population of the city proper. Taxi passengers looking to get around in the “Insurance Capital of the World,” as the city is nicknamed, pay a $3.00 initial charge and $2.70 for every mile traveled. All told, a sample fare of just under five miles runs $16.20.
9 Boston, Massachusetts: $16.20
Settled all the way back in 1630, and incorporated in 1822, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States by any measure. It’s also quite large, with a population of 636,479 in the city proper, and an urban area of 4.6 million, which is the tenth largest in the United States. One of Boston’s nicknames is “The Walking City,” due to its pedestrian-friendly layout. If you're tired of walking, though, and want to take a cab, it will cost you $16.20 for our sample ride, with a $2.60 initial charge added to $2.80 per mile.
8 Bridgeport, Connecticut: $16.20
Bridgeport completes our trio of New England cities that charge $16.20 for a typical taxi ride. Although Hartford is the state’s capital, Bridgeport is Connecticut’s most populous city, with 146,425 people in the city limits. Bridgeport is called “The Park City,” and if you want to take a taxi to and from the parks, it will cost you a $3.00 initial charge and $2.70 per mile.
7 San Francisco, California: $16.70
We jump all the way from New England to the West Coast for our next most expensive taxi city, San Francisco. The City by the Bay needs no introduction, as it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. San Francisco is also the largest city so far on our list, with a population of 825,111. If you want to take a cab to the city’s famous Golden Gate Bridge, it will cost you an initial charge of $3.50 and $2.75 per mile.
6 Buffalo, New York: $16.80
There are 16 other cities in the United States named “Buffalo,” but none are larger than New York’s Buffalo on the eastern shores of Lake Erie. Buffalo is New York’s second largest city, after New York City, with a population of 259,384. Buffalo is nicknamed “The City of Good Neighbors,” but if you can’t find a good neighbor to give you a free lift, you’ll have to pay its taxi drivers $3.00 per mile and a $2.30 initial charge.
5 Rochester, New York: $17.00
Rochester sits about 70 miles to the east-northeast of Buffalo, and is nestled on the southern shores of another Great Lake, Ontario. Initially a hub of flour mills on the Genesee River, Rochester is still called “The Flour City,” and is New York’s third-most-populous city, with a population of 210,532. Rochester has received many accolades for its high quality of life, but that might not take into account its expensive taxis. You’ll pay a $2.50 initial charge and $3.00 per mile in Rochester.
4 San Diego, California: $17.50
We zoom back to the West Coast, this time to Southern California, for our next most expensive city to ride a taxi. San Diego, home to 1.3 million people in its city proper, and 3.1 million in the urban area, is well-known for its beautiful coastline and weather. Indeed, its nickname is “America’s Finest City,” which might be true. The cities’ taxis, though, might not be so fine, at least in terms of price. If you want to take a cab to the beach, it will cost you $2.80 to get inside the cab and $3.00 per mile.
3 San Jose, California: $18.20
About 400 miles up the coast from San Francisco is San Jose, the largest city in Silicon Valley in the South Bay area in Northern California. San Jose is a rapidly growing city, home to 984,299 people. As the “Capital of Silicon Valley,” San Jose has an extremely high cost of living, and taxis are no exception. You’ll find an initial charge of $3.50 and a per-mile fee of $3.00 there.
2 Sacramento, California: $18.40
After visiting San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose, all in California, it’s appropriate that our second-most expensive taxi city is California’s state capital, Sacramento. Located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, Sacramento has a population of 466,488, and a large metropolitan area of 2.6 million people. Taxi fares in the state capital are large, too, with a whopping $4.00 initial charge and a $3.00 fee per mile.
1 Honolulu, Hawaii: $21.05
Jetting off the mainland United States, we find ourselves in a tropical island paradise for the most expensive taxi ride in the United States. Honolulu is the largest city in the state of Hawaii, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2,500 miles off the West Coast. Home to 390,738 residents and countless tourists and vacationers, Honolulu has a high cost of living across the board, due to the difficulty of supplying the tiny island from thousands of miles away. If you want to take a taxi in paradise, it will cost you an initial charge of $3.50 and $3.60 per mile.