Real Life Taxi Cab Confessions – A Day in the Life of Boston’s Cabbies

We’ve all experienced what it’s like to be stranded and unable to find a cab, but it turns out that drivers have just as hard a time finding passengers. In an effort to better understand Boston’s cab industry, we asked 200 Boston cab drivers about their day-to-day experiences.

The results offer an interesting glimpse into the kinds of things cab drivers contend with, including long hours to make ends meet, fare evaders, and much time spent driving around without passengers. In fact, 60 percent of cab drivers spend between a quarter and half of their time on shift without passengers, suggesting that there’s room for modernization in Boston.

Boston cabbies shared their experiences in dealing with Bostonians:

  • Evading Fares: Nearly 70 percent of drivers reported having passengers evade fares at least once a month. In London, by contrast, this typically only happens once a year.

  • Offering Directions: A surprising 83 percent of cab drivers prefer to have passengers tell them which route to take; they are in fact required to ask passengers if they have a preference for how to get to their destination.

  • Tipping Habits: While most passengers tip between 10-15 percent, more than 20 percent of passengers tip five percent or less. In comparison, the average tip in Chicago is 17 to 20 percent, while New Yorkers typically tip 22.5 percent on a $13 average fare. The drivers also had many positive experiences to report. More than 60 percent of taxi drivers who have worked in other cities say that Bostonians tip more than the other locations where they have worked.

  • Behaviors: While the majority of Bostonians are on their best behavior, more than 25 percent of drivers experience people fighting over cabs once a week and a quarter of the drivers polled reported negative interactions with passengers over a seven-day period.


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