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Frequently Asked Taxi Questions

1. Does a Taxi Charge Per Mile?

Yes, in the U.S, taxis usually have a base fare or a flag drop charge (* the fare shown on the meter when your taxi driver starts the meter, when a cab is occupied). All subsequent miles traveled are charged in increments of 1/5th of a mile in Richmond VA. Other city incremental rates may vary. For example, in Richmond VA, the moment you enter and occupy a seat in a taxi, the driver turns on the meter and the flag drop rate/charge is set to $2.50. Now, once your ride starts, the meter increments by $0.50 for every 1/5th of a mile traveled. If you were to travel 1 mile, we would multiply (1/5th mile x 5 = 1 mile) so, $0.50 x 5 = $2.50. So your taxi fare would be the flag drop fee of $2.50 + the 1 mile rate of $2.50 = $5 total.

2. What is a Taxi Flag Drop Charge?

The taxi flag drop rate is the base fee charged by a taxi company. When you enter and occupy the cab, the driver sets his meter to "hired" and the flag drop charge is shown on your meter. In Richmond VA, the flag drop charge is $2.50. Let us say that a flag drop charge is the minimum fee you would pay to ride in a taxi. Cab companies charge this fee, to make sure that the driver gets paid at least a minimum fee. For example, in Richmond VA, if you decided to get into a cab and traveled less than 1/5th of a mile, or changed your mind and got off the next block, the taxi driver would make $0. Why? Because the meter charges $0.50 for every 1/5th mile traveled. So, if you traveled less than 1/5th of a mile, the cab driver would not even make $0.50. The flag drop rate compensates for such situations and ensures that the driver gets paid a minimum of $2.50 for a ride.

3. What is the Origin of the Word "Flag Drop"?

Remember those old taximeters from the 50's which had a flag shaped lever? The term flag drop charge refers to the old meter flag drop design. Here is how the old meters used to look like.


4. How Do Taximeters Look & Work Now?

The new taximeters are more advanced and feature a digital screen with many options for the taxi driver. Here is how a new taximeter looks like. Our company uses these meters from Pulsar technologies.


When you enter the cab, the taxi driver pushes the first button on the left, which sets the meter status to "hired". In Richmond, VA, once the hired button is pressed, the flag drop charge automatically gets added and you will see $2.50 on the meter. The "extras" is for any surcharges, like an after hours charge, and any additional passengers. The "rate" is the number of passengers to be charged. If you are traveling alone, the rate will be set to a default of 1. If you are a group of 4 passengers, the taxi driver will add 3 extras. Remember, the first passenger is not charged any extra fee unless it is an after hours trip (from 9 p.m. through 6 a.m.). Only additional passengers are added to the extras. Children below the age of 6 are not charged. The left side panel of the meter calculates the cost based on miles traveled and wait/stopover time. The right side panel shows the fixed surcharges added when your ride started. When your ride is completed, the driver will push button 3 to show you the mileage fare, plus any extra charges, and the total cost of the trip is displayed.

5. Are Taxi Rates Based on Time or Distance?

Taxi rates are based on both time, and distance traveled. In Richmond VA, your metered fare increments with every 1/5th of a mile traveled. However, the time element comes into play when your cab stops or starts idling. This can happen when you are at a stop light, stuck in traffic, or if you decide to make a stopover. When any of these situations occur, the taximeter shifts into wait mode. In Richmond VA, the wait time is charged at 50 cents per 80 seconds of wait time. Wait time charges are cheaper than per mile charges because the meter automatically senses that your vehicle isn't moving and lowers your rate.

6. Does a Taxi Have to Have a Meter?

Yes, all taxis are regulated by their respective state counties. For a taxicab to qualify as a commercial taxi vehicle, it must pass inspections. Meter's too are regularly inspected to check for faulty equipment or any tampering. Taxi's have to have a meter to operate. However, limos and private cars don't need to have meters installed.

7. Does a Taxi Charge Per Person?

Yes and No. In most states and counties, the first passenger is not charged any extra fees. However, any extra passengers are charged a flat rate per person. For example, in Richmond VA, if you are the only person traveling, there is no per person charge. But, if you were to hire a cab with 3 other passengers, then a taxi driver would add $1 per extra passenger. So, 3 extra passengers would be charged a flat fee of $3.

8. Do Taxis Take Credit Cards?

Yes. All taxis are now required to accept credit cards. Your cab driver cannot decline taking payments via a credit card. However, some taxi companies might decline accepting Amex cards because of the high processing fees per transaction. Still, taxi companies are legally required to accept all valid credit cards. You as a passenger have the right to report a cab company which does not accept a credit card payment.

9. Do Taxis Take Cash?

Yes. All taxis accept cash or credit card payments. In fact, taxi drivers welcome cash payments because they don't incur any credit card processing fees which may range from 2.5% - 3.75% per swipe.

10. Do Taxis Give Receipts?

Yes. All taxis are required to issue receipts on request. Your options include a paper receipt or an e-receipt sent directly to your email inbox.

11. When Should a Taxi Driver Start the Meter?

A taxi driver should start the meter when the passenger is properly seated, all doors closed and when the vehicle gets into motion.

12. Why are Taxis Yellow?

The color yellow was selected by the Yellow Cab Company because survey studies showed that the yellow color was the easiest to spot on roads. But, not all taxis are yellow. For example, in Richmond VA, only the local yellow cab company and a few others feature yellow cars. All other local taxi companies use different colors to differentiate their cab service company.

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