Corrections or additions?
(This article by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
December 2, 1998. All rights reserved.)
Yellow Cabs, Where Are You?
Your guests are coming for the holidays, and you have
to get them to and from the train station, or to and from the airport,
or to and from the hotel, and for whatever reason (like, you have
to earn a living?) you can’t drive them yourself.
But the cost of taxis in Princeton may come as an unpleasant surprise,
particularly if you are used to paying New York prices. In New York,
you can go from Uptown to Downtown for $10 to $12. Here, $10 might
get you from the Princeton Junction train station to downtown
(say, the Nassau Inn), a seven-minute drive off peak. If you call
the Nassau Street cab stand you might be quoted $10 just to get two
people from the Jewish Center, at Nassau and Snowden Lane, to the
Why so much more? Unless you get one from the taxi stand, you have
to call cabs here. You can’t just hail a cab, as you do in Manhattan.
So you pay $1 to call a cab. Also, cabs don’t have meters here. They
have flat rates, based on $2.50 per mile plus $2 per person. And some
cab companies charge more every time they cross a municipal line.
Of course if you are making that train station trip at rush hour,
and 20 minutes later you are still stuck in traffic on Washington
Road, 10 bucks will seem like a bargain.
South Brunswick’s ABC Taxi has flat rates which do not have anything
to do with municipal boundaries. The mileage, and pick-up charges
(as applicable) determine the cost. But taxis in Princeton Borough
have one set of fees for within the borough ($4 for the first
$5 at night, $1 for each additional passenger, $1 for a pick-up) and
a different set for destinations out of the borough.
Sometimes the miles the taxi has to go to get to the customer would
be more than the actual trip. In that case the total mileage would
determine the cost. For instance call a Princeton cab to go from the
Hyatt to just a few blocks within the Carnegie Center and you pay
$10. Call a West Windsor cab and you pay $6.
From the Junction train station to Rocky Hill should cost $18 if you
get a cab from the cab stand. But if you call a cab, the prices could
vary from $20 to $30, depending on where the cab comes from.
Other sample fares show how much cheaper it is to use the closest
cab service. From Forrestal Hotel & Conference Center to MarketFair,
it is $14 with Plainsboro’s ABC Taxi or $18 with Princeton’s A Local
Taxi. But from Carnegie Center to Quakerbridge Mall, it is $12 with
Bob’s Plainsboro Taxi or $14 with ABC Taxi.
Similarly, it’s about $30 to the Trenton train station, whether it
takes 20 minutes at off peak or longer during the rush. The $30 is
from the Nassau Inn. As you would expect, you pay a couple dollars
more from the Forrestal Hotel, a couple dollars less from the Hyatt.
To have someone picked up at Newark Airport, expect to pay nearly
$90 for a sedan to your home or office. A-1 Limousine’s basic charge
is $72 for a sedan reserved in advance. Add a 15 percent ($10) tip,
$3 for roundtrip tolls, and parking costs of at least $5. The price
is the same for one or two people, or three people who aren’t
with luggage. "You pay for the car, not the person," says
By arranging to meet your guest at a predetermined point, the cab
companies do it for $10 or $12 less. Bob’s Plainsboro Taxi’s basic
fee is $65 plus tolls but you don’t have parking charges. If you tell
your guest to take just any available taxi, be sure your guest is
equipped with a good map of Princeton. We’ve all seen taxis with New
York plates wandering, confused, between Route 1 and Route 27, ringing
up higher fares by the minute.
If your able-bodied guest with minimal luggage can wait
for a $24 shuttle, arrange a pick-up with the Airporter, and then
meet your guest at one of the hotels. (Hint: meet at the Hyatt or
another hotel where there is enough parking. The parking-impaired
Nassau Inn is the last stop.) Children accompanied by an adult ride
free on the Airporter, and shuttles leave every hour, says Goodner
Grouser, Airporter’s new general manager. For the return trip to the
airport, they now leave as early as 4:15 a.m.
Limousines are a bargain if a whole family is coming. For less than
$150 (including A-1’s basic fee of $116 plus the extras) you can stuff
the aunt, uncle and kiddies — up to six people — in the limo,
and make them feel like royalty. No extra charges for extra people.
Compare that to slogging up the turnpike in heavy traffic, paying
tolls, waiting around, well, you know the drill.
That’s just for Newark Airport. Unfortunately, no shuttles run to
Princeton from Philadelphia Airport. But though cab companies charge
$20 to $25 more to Philadelphia Airport, A-1 Limousine’s prices are
the same for both. (The budget method of getting to and from
fun only for four-year-olds, involves a shuttle, three trains, and
The trip to JFK Airport (a drive to be avoided at any cost, even if
you happen to have the free time) would be $34 on the Airporter
A-1 charges $115 for a sedan (plus those tolls and tips) and $150
for a limo, and taxis will run slightly less.
If your guest is staying at a hotel, you may be able to commandeer
the hotel’s van services for local drops. Somehow, though, those van
services are never available exactly when you need them.
So it’s back to taxis. Now comes the question, what taxi is reliable?
Every township except Plainsboro and East Windsor has a licensing
procedure. In West Windsor, each license costs $75 per year plus $75
per driver. Just because they are licensed, however, does not mean
they will answer the phone.
The taxi stand on Nassau Street is like the proverbial watched pot.
Go by there in your car and the cabs are lined up. But when you need
a cab and call 888-265-1222 there is no guarantee that anyone will
All sources agree that, unless you are going to hire a limo, the cab
services most likely to show up are the radio-controlled ones, which
also happen to be larger and available 24 hours a day (or 22 hours
daily, closing down from 3 to 5 a.m.). In Princeton that’s A-1 AAA
Princeton Taxi (800-481-TAXI). A-1 AAA gets the nod of approval from
the concierge at the Nassau Inn — and from Yellow Cab in Trenton.
Even at these prices, taxi drivers aren’t getting rich. Unless they
own their own cab, drivers earn from $20,000 to $25,000 if they work
a regular 45-hour week. They make 45 percent of gross plus tips and
can of course earn more by working longer hours or by buying their
own cab. But the auto insurance for each vehicle is $7,000, more than
the hacks pay in Manhattan.
As for tips: "Some people who use the car every day to go to work
don’t tip," says Eric Salat, co-owner of ABC Taxi. "If they
are making $10 an hour they spend two hours of their pay getting back
and forth to work. Corporate people, they tip." Salat says he
and his partner Adel Badran opened ABC Taxi last year because South
Brunswick residents were paying $12 or $15 for a Plainsboro or New
Brunswick cab. "When the only public transportation is the bus
on Route 27, people are very happy that they can go around town for
$6 or $5."
— Barbara Fox
Samuel, owner. 609-924-5040.
Michael Starr, president and CEO. 609-951-0070. Home page:
Princeton 08540. Danny Palumbo. 609-921-1177. 24 hour service, radio
Taxi Stand, 609-924-1222, 888-265-1222.
Center, Monmouth Junction 08852. Adel Badran, co-owner. 732-274-1300.
Alan Glickman, chairman/CEO. 800-385-4000. Home page:
Transportation to JFK and Newark airports.
24 hour service.
Road, Plainsboro 08536. Bob Flesch, owner. 609-275-4542.
DeKlapsogeorge, proprietor. 609-448-2492. 24 hour service, radio
08512. Nick Singelakis. 609-921-1122 or, outside the 609 area,
Picture this: you are going to the Hyatt in West Windsor and you take
a cab licensed in another township. You ask that cab company to pick
you up four hours later. Theoretically your cabbie could get a traffic
ticket, worth up to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail, for going back
to West Windsor for the return trip. That’s because any cab can make
a drop off, but only cabs licensed in West Windsor are allowed to
In actual practice, we hasten to say, your cabbie would not get a
ticket. West Windsor police are not going to seek out trespassing
cab drivers anywhere but at the Junction train station, says Sgt.
Frank Coyle. Coyle presided over the writing of the new taxicab
which went into effect on November 23. It capped the number of taxi
licenses at 42, but it also created a uniform rate sheet that is
lower than what most taxis were charging.
Even the old ordinance, Coyle says, could prevent taxis not licensed
in West Windsor from doing business in the township. And even though
Coyle is enforcing the ordinance only at the train station, cabbies
outside West Windsor are disgruntled.
"There is no other town that prevents taxicabs from coming to
pick up people. If each township passed that same ordinance nobody
would be able to pick up anybody," says Eric Salat, co-owner of
ABC Taxi, which is licensed in South Brunswick. "The residents
don’t know about it yet. I would be outraged." Salat’s ABC Taxi
was started last year and is licensed in South Brunswick. It bought
no West Windsor license before the capping ordinance. Now, because
of the cap, it can’t buy one.
"It’s right that only West Windsor’s licensed cars can wait at
the train station," says Salat. "But now they don’t even want
us coming into their town to pick up people. If somebody says they
don’t have any cabs available, or that it will be a 35-minute wait,
do you want the opportunity to call us up? We are working with our
Bob Flesch, owner of Bob’s Plainsboro Taxi, agrees with Salat, even
though his firm is not personally affected. Though 90 percent of
Taxi’s business is by reservation, Flesch does hold three taxi
in West Windsor. "The ordinance doesn’t make any sense," says
Flesch, when told that the ordinance could theoretically prevent cabs
without West Windsor licenses from responding to calls in West
"That’s asinine. The only way they can enforce that is at the
Princeton Junction train station. The customer has every right to
pick and choose what company they want."
The ordinance resulted from passenger complaints about high prices,
says Carole Carson, the mayor, so the township worked out a rate sheet
and the taxi owners licensed in West Windsor agreed to comply with
it in return for capping licenses and thus limiting competition.
was an effort to deal with safety issues," says Carson, "to
make sure our residents and guests are getting into taxis that are
safe, that drivers have passed rigorous background checks, and that
the rates are consistent and fair."
The ordinance does not apply to limousine drivers. Salat objects:
"What is a limousine driver but a taxi driver in a suit?"
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.