By Razib Khan | August 21, 2007 11:24 pm

This morning in NYC I took a cab to Penn Station. It was raining really hard…so I was curious, I asked the cab driver, “So do you get more fares when it’s raining?” He explained that yes, there are more fares on hand, but because of the rain and traffic jams it works out to less revenue in a given day (e.g., he explained that half the time he’s stuck in traffic without a fare).
Then I showed up in D.C. this afternoon, and I notice no meter or even all that offical crap that NYC cabs have. I start freaking out and wondering whether this is really a cab, but the guy drops me off and asks for a reasonable amount. Later I find out that D.C. has some “zones,” instead of metered service. Strange.

  • The Ridger

    The “zone” system is odd. I guess it works out for the drivers – it prevents them from getting stuck with lots of low-paying trips. It can startle you as a passenger though – a short trip that crosses zone lines costs more than you think it will, and a long one that doesn’t, costs less. I got a driver at National once who didn’t know how to get to Laurel and thought I meant the GW Parkway when I said “Take the parkway to 198”. This annoyed the hell out of me because the GW Parkway doesn’t go anywhere near 198… But I wasn’t too terribly upset because the posted price to Laurel was reasonable even if the trip was going to take twice as long (it was dark and raining and I didn’t notice he was heading for the GW in time). I thought he’d learn from his mistake. Hah! Turns out the zone doesn’t operate that far away from the city. I was really pissed off, and complained, and now make sure every airport cab driver I get actually knows where he’s going…

  • MarkH

    It’s stupid, I know. It also allows for a lot of abuse as the cabbies can reliably tell who knows the lines between zones or how to make drives cover more zones than they should.

  • pconroy

    In NYC when it rains there are usually far LESS cabs on the streets, and far more demand – it’s totally infuriating.
    That’s why I totally agree with Major Bloomberg’s plan on congestion pricing – that would keep down the number of out-of-towners who drive to work when it rains, and enable more cabs to be on the streets at all times.

  • Sandgroper

    Universal principle – taxis dissolve in rainwater.

  • Karl

    I hard a piece on NPR recently about this. An Economics prof discussed it. It seems that cab drivers have an idea about how much money they need to make per day. When it’s clear, they have time gaps between fares, so they have to stay out longer to make their desired amount. When it’s raining, the demand is greater – they may make their quota in only half a day, and they quit and go home.

  • Mr. Me

    Were you trying to contrast his explanation against the one in the Economic Naturalist?

  • Karl

    I looked at the link. I think that’s the guy I heard. Do you have the book? Does he say something different than what I said?

  • Mr. Me

    Yeah, I think that was probably Robert Frank you heard on the radio.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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