Taxi drivers only make money when their car is on the road, and with approximately 232,300 taxi and chauffeur drivers on the job in 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic, that equals a lot of driving. Full-time drivers pull an 8- to 12-hour shift each day they work. The average taxi trip in the U.S., as reported by Schaller Consulting in January of 2006, was 5 miles, with a waiting time of 5 minutes. Schaller also reports that in 2005, 39 percent of a New York taxi's total mileage was spent cruising the streets for passengers.
Average Number of Annual Miles for a New York City Taxi
According to the PBS program "Taxi Dreams," the average number of miles driven by a taxi driver in New York City in a 12-hour shift is 180. If you do the simple math, a cab running five days a week would rack up 46,800 miles in 52 weeks. Because some cabs are used for double shifts, meaning that two drivers share the same vehicle in two 12-hour shifts, an average cab being used to pull double shifts could rack up 93,600 miles in a year or more.
Metro Taxi of Denver, Colorado
Reported by Metro Taxi (metrotaxidenver.com), Denver's largest taxicab company has 492 cabs on the road, and the company's cabs average 70,000 miles per year. In an effort to reduce fuel costs and CO2 emissions, Metro Taxi has converted 15 percent of their vehicles to hybrid taxis. The hybrids get 50 to 55 miles per gallon, and Metro Taxi estimates that converting one taxi to a hybrid is the equivalent to converting five non-commercial vehicles into hybrids.
The Estimation from The IRS
Calculate the number of oil changes that a taxi driver reports on their tax return, and you can determine the estimated mileage they drive annually, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS determined that they could used cab maintenance receipts to reconcile the miles actually driven. In the process, they learned that even repair bills without odometer readings could be used to estimate the amount of mileage driven. The 2001 study of Los Angeles taxi drivers showed that mileage driven could be estimated from oil bills, as well as tire purchases, tune-ups, and other routine maintenance. For example, if 5 oil bills were submitted with fifteen oil changes performed at the recommended 3,000 miles per oil change, it would come to 45,000 miles.
How it Compares to Other Drivers
Compare the miles taxi drivers put on their vehicles compared with the driving habits of non-commercial drivers. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported in "Our Nations Highway" survey for the year 2000 that male drivers between the ages of 35 to 54 drove an average of 18,858 miles per year, while female drivers in the same age group drove an average of 11,464 miles.
- The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission; Passenger Information
- PBS Taxi Dreams; Facts & Figures
- U.S. Department of Transportation; Average Annual Miles per Driver by Age Group
- IRS Taxi Library: Taxicab Overview
- Metro Taxi:Going Green, Metro Taxi has Colorado’s Largest and Greenest Fleet
- Schaller Consulting: Taxi Fares in Major U.S. Cities; 1/2006
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images