A recent letter-writer to ‘Town Topics’ wrote of her experiences while visiting Princeton from England. Having stayed at a hotel on Route 206, just over the Princeton boundary, she was appalled when a taxi ride of 3 miles cost $28 before tips! She concluded:
It seems to me that such extortionate costs must also be detracting from other businesses in the area; for example on at least one day we did not want to wait for buses in the rain so we did not shop in Princeton, as we were not willing to pay the taxi fares. It would certainly be a major consideration for us when deciding where to stay when visiting New Jersey in the future.
This situation sounds extremely familiar to this writer:
- A taxi to a nearby Route 1 hotel cost me $25, without tip;
- A taxi ride of just over a mile (taken during a torrential rainstorm) cost $18, without tip.
We all understand that cab rides are something of a luxury, and drivers have expenses. But ‘USA Today’ did a survey of 1-mile cab rides in different cities across the country, and found that the most expensive places typically charged $7 – $8. We seem to be paying more than double that! Also, there is not much clarity about how much a trip should cost. The meter is rare here, so the cost fare seems to be almost random.
Such high costs for taxis are a big problem for several reasons. Firstly, living a completely ‘car-free‘ lifestyle is basically impossible. That’s not to say that it is impossible to live in Princeton without owning a car, but people who don’t own a car invariably find ways to share/borrow/hire a car for occasions when car use is essential. One way to do that is by taking occasional taxi rides. But when the cost of cabs is so high, car ownership is incentivized.
Another problem is the DUI issue. Every week’s police reports from around the area carry tales of drivers busted for drink-driving. These miscreants likely represent the tip of the iceberg. It seems very likely that significant numbers of drivers are going home after having drunk alcohol. There is no excuse, but it is not totally surprising that people drive home from bars and restaurants, because adding $20 – $30 to the cost of a night out is a considerable expense. Clearly, if cabs were more affordable, more people would take advantage of them, and that would be safer for our roads, and better for area businesses.
Do you have any cab fare horror stories? Why do you think cabs are so expensive in Princeton? Leave a comment below…