I know someone didn't pay $400 for a cab ride
January 26, 2010 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Why did I just see a NYC taxi in Natick, Massachusetts?

On my lunch break, I passed a New York City cab in a parking lot near where I work. I didn't want to go full-on stalker, so I really only noticed that:

1) It looked like the real deal, newish graphic design and all.
2) It had an MA license plate.
3) It didn't appear to have a hackney license, but I didn't inspect it up close or anything.

What's the deal? Can you legally buy used taxicabs for personal use? Is that a thing?
posted by oinopaponton to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Someone filming a movie?
posted by suedehead at 10:55 AM on January 26, 2010

Likely a movie, although in a city of the super rich, people do often pay hundreds for cab rides (but the plate leads me to believe that's not the case).
posted by Damn That Television at 10:56 AM on January 26, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, it was parked outside a Walgreens pharmacy and there was no filming equipment that I saw.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:57 AM on January 26, 2010

NYC's Taxi and Limousine commision does permit taxis to make a trip out of the city "so long as the driver and the passenger agree on the fare before taking the trip." New Yorks' Taxi and Limousine service rules have a whole clause set up for how taxis report that fare.

According to Google Maps, it's only a 3-hour drive; I've hired a limo to get me from a remote place upstate to a wedding in Queens, and it was about the same distance so it's not THAT ridiculous a concept. I'd be more inclined to think it was some kind of movie, but it is indeed possible it was a taxi who just had a really big fare.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:04 AM on January 26, 2010

There's no way to be sure without closer examination (particularly of the medallion and the inside of the cab) but with an MA plate? A movie. As for being at the Walgreens, perhaps some PA was sent out on an errand, and that was the only car available?

Man, now I'm wishing there was a photo....
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:04 AM on January 26, 2010

I doubt it was a movie as a movie filming in a town like Natick would be all over the paper. Plus, it wouldn't have had MA plates.

I wonder if it was some sort of promotional prop. It'll probably show up at The Mall, er, Collection soon.

Were they regular MA plates or dealer plates?

Now I'm curious.
posted by bondcliff at 11:05 AM on January 26, 2010

Response by poster: Regular plates, and the body of the car looked kind of beat up (cracked bumper).
posted by oinopaponton at 11:10 AM on January 26, 2010

Ohhhh, I missed that it had an MA license.

In that case, I'd be inclined to chalk it up to being a very, very good copy instead of an outright actual cab with MA plates. Or someone who wanted to goof around with their car a bit and downloaded the current NYC design and put it on their own car for fun.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:12 AM on January 26, 2010

Maybe the taxi driver was on vacation. Pretty sure that most taxi drivers own their cars and can use them for personal use.
posted by camworld at 11:13 AM on January 26, 2010

Seconding "it's not a real taxi"
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:15 AM on January 26, 2010

Best answer: Of course you can buy a used New York Taxi.
posted by jedrek at 11:16 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know someone didn't pay $400 for a cab ride

You'd be surprised. That does actually happen in real life.

The Massachusetts license, however, leads me to believe that that's a used model.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:17 AM on January 26, 2010

Fringe also tapes in massachusetts. Maybe its from their set?
posted by majortom1981 at 11:18 AM on January 26, 2010

Response by poster: Apparently they're cheap, too! I want one.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:19 AM on January 26, 2010

but Fringe also takes place in Massachusetts, so why would they have an NYC cab?
posted by brainmouse at 11:20 AM on January 26, 2010

Cab companies vary. In some of them, the drivers own their own cabs outright which gives them a lot of flexibility in the hours they work, etc.

The last time I took a cab to the airport for a relatively short hop flight to see family, the driver and I had a really entertaining conversation about the Art Bell show and the old Firesign Theater radio plays. (I think he was especially delighted I knew what the latter was.) He cheerfully gave me his card and urged me to call directly the next time I needed a lift. "Hey, I can probably get you there cheaper than flying next time!" Which led to some anecdotes of times he'd done similar things for some passengers, giving them lifts over half-day drive distances etc when time and circumstances were blocking other transport options.

So it could be something like that, though the MA license argues against that possibility.
posted by Drastic at 11:20 AM on January 26, 2010

Most likely a used taxi that someone bought or received. A NYC taxi has to have NY plates, and if it was for a movie they would have put NY plates on the car.
posted by hamsterdam at 11:23 AM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Is there a train yard nearby?

There is a big train yard near my house, and cabs "hang out" in an adjacent parking lot, waiting for a call to pick up someone from the train yard. I guess it's a desirable client - the cab takes the engineer (or whatever position they have) a very long distance to....another train yard? Home? And the train company pays for it all.

I asked a cabbie about this once, but it was years ago and the specifics are gone - sorry!
posted by suki at 12:40 PM on January 26, 2010

Make and model of the car? Crown Vic?
posted by Zambrano at 12:51 PM on January 26, 2010

Out of curiosity, was it a reasonably modern 'NYC' cab (e.g. 4-door sedan, or one of the new hybrids), or was it a Checker Cab?

Only because I've seen a few loving restorations of Checker Cabs over the years, but I can't imagine anyone wanting a 1988 Crown Vic taxi cab.

(a side note - I followed your link to the cabs for sale - are they really that cheap? Seems like $15k is a lot to pay for a 2 year old car with 220,000 miles. Man do they drive the wheels off those things)
posted by swngnmonk at 12:55 PM on January 26, 2010

Regarding Fringe being filmed in MA: I was pretty bummed to find out that, aside from the few flyover shots, none of it is filmed here at all.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:57 PM on January 26, 2010

Response by poster: swngnmonk, and Zambrano, it was a 4-door Crown Victoria. Not really the most beautiful or exciting car, so someone buying it cheap & used makes the most sense. I'm guessing that whoever owned it must have lived in the NYC area at the time of purchase and then moved up here and re-registered it.

And you're right, a lot of those cabs are way overpriced. I was temporarily blinded by the $1000 ones.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:00 PM on January 26, 2010

There is a taxi company called "JFK Taxi" in Natick. Perhaps they've co-opted the NY taxi look.
posted by FreezBoy at 1:01 PM on January 26, 2010

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