Don't let the airport taxis gouge you! It will cost about $35 (before tip) to go from O'Hare downtown - takes 25 min on a good day! During rush hour going from the city back to the airport it can take over an hour - plan ahead, or check out the train. If the cab tries to overcharge you (once they took me on a roundabout route and charged $50), before paying just let the hotel person opening the door know - they hold a lot of power over the cabbies and will 'negotiate' for you!
Shuttles can be arranged for 10-15 bucks (per person), but you will have to register at the desk near baggage claim, wait as much as 30 min for it to leave, and go on an expedition as they drop everyone else off first. If you have two people it costs only a few bucks more for a cab.
Chicago has an atlas of taxi drivers. I rode in so many (I was on expenses and being lazy) that I got to hear each of their life stories. Not that they force it on you, I just like to chat. They were from all over the world, from Jordan, Senegal, Palestine, El Salvador... and those were just the ones I can remember. Calling a cab was as easy as sticking my finger out and waiting about two seconds, and all the taxi drivers I met were totally straight up. The same price for the same journey every time.
I prefer to walk so I don't take cabs often but when I have, I've never encountered being overcharged but I have had cabbies that don't know where they are going. Know the name of the place where you are going but also know the address and the cross street.
Although not as bad as New York City, I have been in cabs where I've feared for my life (note to pedestrians, never, ever, assume a cab or a CTA bus will stop even if you have the right of way), cabbies get the bulk of their fare just by getting you into the cab so getting you there fast might be more important than getting you there in one piece.
As of 5/11/05, the meter should start at $2.25, $1.00 extra for the first passenger, $.50 for each additional passenger, $1.80 for each additional mile plus time charges of .20 for each 36 seconds. For updated fares, click on the website below, go to Department of Consumer Services and find taxi cab information.
There is usually no problem getting a cab in the tourist area or business district but should you be venturing outside of it, you might need to call for one.
In my experience Taxis are a safe and effective way to travel around the city. The taxi's I have used have always taken the most direct route, and been friendly and helpful. The prices are reasonable, and there are so many that you never have to wait long to flag one down.
Trying to traverse Michigan Avenue in a taxi is generally a waste of time, however, since the traffic is always very busy on the magnificent mile. Pedestrians seem to out-walk the cars!
When you flag down a taxi you will incur a "flag fee" of $2.25, prices are then $0.20 for each 9th of a mile or 36 seconds waiting. The first additional passenger is charged at $1.00, with each successive passenger adding $0.20. For long journeys ask for a price before setting off. A taxi from O'Hare airport should cost around $35, from Midway the fee should be around $25.
Taxis available for hire are supposed to be indicated by their roof-box being lit, however we found no real correlation between lit roof lights and taxi availability.
All taxis in Chicago are required to accept credit cards, and in the few occasions I have needed to use a card it has never been a problem. Tipping is usual, around 10-15% is fair, but is not compulsory!
Some Local Cab Companies (Might be useful in less popular districts):
American-United Taxi - +1 (773) 248 7600
Checker Cab - +1 (312) 243 2537
Flash Cab - +1 (773) 561 1444
Yellow Cab - +1 (312) 829 4222
If you are staying downtown, it is fairly easy to find a taxi cab. Unlike cities like Denver and San Francisco, Chicago has an abundance of cabs at most hours.
Both distance and time determine your fare. Rates are a flat fee of $1.50, and 20 cents for each additional 1/6 of a mile. Additional passengers between the ages of 12 and 65 cost $1- but it is really up to the driver as to whether or not they add on this extra. They cannot charge you for baggage. There is a $1 fee for the taxi to go to/from one of the airports.
Based on the quality of service, tips are at the discretion of the customer. A cab ride between O'Hare Airport and Chicago costs approx. $25-$30. From Midway Airport to downtown the cost runs between $20-$25. You can also get a shared ride from the airport which costs about $15.
If you do need to call a cab, these are the most popular cab companies:
American-United Taxi -- (773) 248-7600
Checker Cab -- (312) 243-2537
Yellow Cab -- (312) 829-4222
Flash Cab -- (773) 561-1444
Even with the recent increase in fares, the taxis in Chicago are still far cheaper than those of many other major US cities. Charges are $1.50 at the drop of the flag, $1.20 per mile and 50¢ for each additional passenger. Cabs can be hailed anytime in the Loop and other central neighborhoods; otherwise you can call Yellow at (312)829-4222 or Checker taxis at (312) 243-2537).
Why drive around in Chicago traffic and pay for parking when you can easily take a taxi to any far off destinations within the city? Our hotel was in a central location so walking was an option most of the time, but we did find ourselves hopping into cabs once in a while when the winter weather became too much or we had wandered too far from our homebase. We didn't have any problems with the taxis or the drivers.
Hey, it's an affordable and fun way to get on the Chicago River. It's not the most efficient - service is limited in the number of stops and the frequency of trips. But for $2.00, I'm not complaining. And it's a great idea to use the river for people moving.
There are three stops: Michigan Ave., La Salle/Clark, and Madison. Tickets can be purchased on board the boat. Or if you are a regular commuter you can purchase packages of ten tickets in advance.
I have to admit that I'm not sure if this service operates all year, or just in the warmer months. Best check ahead for details.
Take a taxi or a car (from O'Hare) on any Expressway into town and sit in the front seat in order to enjoy the city coming closer and closer, majesticly. It is only fun before 4pm or so. Then there is no traffic jam, usually there is plenty of traffic, also in the morning of course.
While it appears both snow & taxis are fairly common to the Chicago area - it also appears that the two do not go together during snowstorms. I recently discovered to my pain (its down to you to judge whether the pain was the cold or my ears ringing to the complaints of my girlfriend) that taxis don't like running in the snow. Not sure exactly why, whether it is too dangerous or just not worth the hassle, but they don't. Which is a bit of a pain if you've just gone for a meal in Greektown and have to walk all the way back to Michigan & Wacker!!!
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