New York City is back on top of the tourism map, which means many visitors are traveling between LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty airports and Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island.
As a native and lifelong New Yorker, these are my recommendations for the most reliable and affordable public transportation, car services and licensed taxis, to help you save money and prevent you from being scammed into paying much more than what you should be paying.
You can pay as little as $10 per person for public transportation or as much as $100 or more for a car service for one-way transportation to and from JFK.
This comprehensive guide gives you all your transportation choices to and from JFK, including travel time.
Flat Fee Taxi Fare Between JFK and Manhattan
Take a licensed yellow taxi for a flat fee of $70 in either direction. The fixed-rate fare went up from $52 on Jan. 1, 2023.
That’s $70, plus some other city and state mandated charges, so expect to pay closer to $90 with tip.
These are the add-ons and surcharges in 2023:
- 50 cents MTA State Surcharge.
- 30 cents Improvement Surcharge.
- $4.50 rush hour surcharge (4pm to 8pm weekdays, excluding legal holidays).
- New York State Congestion Surcharge of $2.50 (Yellow Taxi) or $2.75 (Green Taxi and FHV) or 75 cents (any shared ride) for all trips that begin, end or pass through Manhattan south of 96th Street.
- Tips and any tolls, such as the RFK/Triborough Bridge or Queens Midtown Tunnel.
- From Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge are currently toll-free.
In 2023, NYC added an additional $5 surcharge to drop-off or pick up at either JFK or LaGuardia.
The on-screen rate message should read “Rate #2- JFK Airport.”
Trips between John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) and other destinations outside of Manhattan are charged the standard metered fare, plus fees.
Trips to and from LaGuardia are charged the standard metered fare, plus fees, including the new $5 airport pick-up and drop-off fee.
NYC taxi trips to Newark Airport have a different set of rules, because EWR is in New Jersey, not New York City, which is in New York State.
NYC taxis also have the right to decline taking you out-of-state, but it is against the law for a driver to decline to take you to any location within NYC.
Trips to Newark Airport (EWR):
- Standard metered fare.
- Plus $17.50 Newark Surcharge.
- Plus 30 cents Improvement Surcharge.
- Plus tip and tolls to and from EWR (passengers are charged for the drivers’ return tolls).
- The on-screen rate message should read “Rate #3 – Newark Airport.”
- E-Hail – NYC Taxi Apps
There are several E-Hail apps which allow you to reserve a NYC taxi online with a binding rate if you request one.
These are the E-Hail apps currently participating:
- If you request a trip through the E-Hail app, the meter will not be turned on for the duration of the trip.
- Each E-Hail company sets its own rates and will give you a price prior to sending a trip request.
- If you received a binding fare quote, you will pay the fare that you accepted.
- E-Hail companies are still allowed to send you metered taxis, instead of offering a binding fare quote.
- Consult the E-Hail company if you are unsure which type of trip you are requesting.
- The upfront fare quote should include all charges, but the fare may change if you change your destination or if there are any unexpected tolls or taxes.
- If you feel you have been overcharged, file a complaint with 311.
- Each app has an option to tip the driver. As always, you can tip your driver in cash.
Everything else you need to know about NYC taxi fares and other taxi regulations is on the official NYC government website.
The MTA provides regular Q3, Q6, Q7, Q10, Q10 LTD and B15 services between JFK Airport, Brooklyn, Queens and beyond with subway connections.
- Find out which bus goes where, on the MTA website page specific to JFK
Take the AirTrain to either the NYC subway or the LIRR commuter rail line for connections to Manhattan and other NYC boroughs including Brooklyn and elsewhere in Queens (JFK Airport is in Queens, as is LaGuardia Airport)
Then take the A, E, J or Z trains, depending on your destination. The A and E are express trains to midtown Manhattan.
Transfer to the N, R or 7 at Queensboro Plaza to get to Times Square.
- AirTrain fare is $8 on top of your subway or LIRR railway fare.
- The AirTrain price is due to rise to $8.50 in March, 2024.
- If you connect to the subway, a $2.90 fare, your trip will be $10.90, or $11.40 after March 2024.
- You can not use unlimited subway passes on the AirTrain, but the turnstiles do accept the OMNY touch-and-and go payment system.
- If you use a regular MetroCard, be sure there is enough money on it for the fare.
- There are kiosks to purchase a MetroCard at every station in the subway system and also at AirTrain stops, where you can choose an individual ride, a set dollar amount such as $20 or $30, or an unlimited weekly pass.
- If you use the LIRR, sit near the front of the AirTrain. That will put you closer to Jamaica Station when you disembark for less walking with your luggage.
- Use the LIRR for Penn Station in midtown Manhattan or for Downtown Brooklyn. One-way Fares are as low as $5 off-peak.
More information on the MTA website.
There is also express bus service between the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Times Square and Terminals 1, 4 and 8.
The service is now operated by Golden Touch Transportation, formerly New York Airporter, every 30 minutes. Fare is $19 each way or $35 round trip.
Unfortunately, for some incomprehensible reason, JFK airport express busses operate only between 11am and 7pm.
Direct Train Link to Grand Central Terminal
All aboard to Grand Central Madison! The Long Island Rail Road’s new east side terminal opened in January 2023 with special Grand Central Direct shuttle service to and from JFK.
Trains run seven days a week between Jamaica and Grand Central Madison. This service is in addition to the current Long Island Rail Road schedule.
Here’s how Grand Central Direct shuttle service works:
- During the AM and PM rush, trains will run hourly in the peak direction (westbound in the morning, eastbound in the evening).
- These peak trains stop at Woodside to provide service for Port Washington customers.
- At midday, trains will run every half hour, with one train running express between Jamaica and Grand Central, and one train making all local stops at Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, and Woodside.
- The first train will depart Jamaica at 6:17 a.m., and the final train will depart Grand Central at 8:04 p.m.
- Between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., trains run every half hour, with one train running express between Jamaica and Grand Central, and one train making all local stops at Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, and Woodside.
You can find more details on Grand Central Direct trains in the TrainTime app.
A one-way ticket costs the same as a one-way ticket between Jamaica and Penn Station. During off-peak hours, you can use a $5 CityTicket on Grand Central Direct trains.
The current LIRR schedule remains in effect, and there are no changes to existing trains to Penn Station and other destinations.
Long before app-based ride services surged onto the scene from Silicon Valley, NYC had a thriving local car service industry, and still does, including family-owned businesses.
NYC-based car services offer similar competitive prices and late model cars to the Silicon Valley companies Uber and Lyft, and competitive with NYC taxi prices.
Most NYC-based car services are small, family-owned businesses.
Plus, NYC-based services hire only professional, experienced drivers who know NYC and don’t need to rely on GPS to find an address or the back route to the airport when the highway is gridlocked.
NYC-based car services also give you the choice to order your vehicle by app or the old-fashioned way – dialing instead of texting to speak to a real live person to order your car.
Some NYC-based car services have both local phone numbers with 212 and 917 area codes, and toll-free numbers.
What a concept! Speak to a real live dispatcher who knows the city and its traffic patterns and can advise you on the best pick-up time for wherever you are going.
And that real live person can take your credit card info so you can prepay on the phone and not even bother to sign anything when you are in the vehicle.
Your credit card stays on record for the next time, and you get an actual receipt via email for each ride you take – just as with those app-based services owned by the Silicon Valley millionaires.
Unfortunately, even some of the local car services have begun to charge more for peak demand times, but nothing like the surge pricing charged by the Silicon Valley companies.
Plus, you are told the cost up-front, so there are no expensive surge pricing surprises when you get the bill.
All those things make locally-based NYC car services more convenient and often less expensive than those Silicon Valley companies.
And since many car service drivers maximize their income by working both for a NYC-based company and one of the Silicon Valley imports, you are not taking work away from a NYC driver – you are giving him or her more work.
If you are tired of surge pricing surprises, drivers not familiar with NYC or with the English language, or with sending your money to Wall St. investors, check out these reliable, professional NYC-based car services, some of which also have a national presence.
NYC-based traditional black car and neighborhood livery drivers can take mobile payments and send you an email receipt.
And unlike those Silicon Valley companies, the NYC car services also take that old-fashioned hand-held payment system called cash.
BTW – I always give a cash tip, even when I pay by credit card, so drivers don’t have to wait for the payment cycle from the car service company or from the credit card company. That applies also to licensed NYC taxis.
Carmel has been providing reliable car service at reasonable prices for more than 25 years, and I have been using them that long. They offer discounts for non-peak airport service – just ask.
They also have partners in other cities, including Los Angeles.
Their experienced telephone dispatchers know traffic patterns and will tell you if your requested travel time to the airport is not enough, or just order a car through their app, the same way you would an Uber or Lyft ride, and pay electronically or with cash.
Dial 7 also has been providing reliable car service at reasonable prices for more than 25 years. I use them regularly, too, and recommend them.
They also have partners in other cities, including Los Angeles.
Dial 7, like its chief competitor Carmel, offers discounts for non-peak airport service if you ask, and their telephone operators know traffic patterns and can advice you on the proper timing for your trip.
You can also order a car via their app, the same way you would order an Uber or Lyft ride, and pay electronically or with cash.
- Phone Number: (212) 777-7777
Based in Chelsea, AllState is in a great location to easily get to anybody in New York City in a reasonable pickup time.
Their drivers look and act professionally, and they offer discounts for regular riders.
- Phone Number: (212) 333-3333
Primarily a corporate service, Carey also transports non-corporate individual passengers, although at rates slightly higher than Carmel, Dial 7 and AllState, in part because drivers are uniformed and vehicles are more likely to be higher-end luxury sedans and SUVs.
- Phone Number: (800) 336-4646
If you are eco-minded, this is the car service for you. Elite Green’s fleet strictly is exclusively fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles, including the Lincoln MKT and Mercedes S550.
For security, personal account riders cannot enter a vehicle without a voucher.
- Phone Number: (866) 696-5966
Wiro is the best car service you’ll find for your money in NYC. Of all the companies on this list, Wiro is the most consistent, which is a huge plus in a city where being five minutes late will enrage a lot of customers.
Drivers often arrive early and will call and text you when they are near. With low prices and high courtesy, Wiro is the way to go.
- Phone Number: (718) 775-2611
Based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, Arecibo serves the entire tri-state area and has the tagline “we’ll be there in 5 minutes.”
We wouldn’t always count on that to hold 100 percent true, but they are good about always being prompt. Arecibo offers standard, luxury, minivan, and SUV vehicles.
- Phone Number: (855) 428-0222
Based on the Upper West Side, New Family services the entire city, specializing in Upper Manhattan and Bronx, primarily with bi-lingual Latino drivers.
- Phone Number: (212)749-7777
- No website, but positive review on Yelp
Operated by a father-daughter combo. Prices are higher than other car services recommended here, but it gets high marks from followers on Facebook.
- No website
- Facebook page which includes phone number
This article has been has been updated for ecoXplorer and re-published periodically, including in Jan. 2024 with new rates.
The original and updated articles are both (C) Copyright Evelyn Kanter.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and the author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is the President of IMPA, the International Motor Press Assn., and a member of the North American Travel Journalists Assn. (NATJA) and the North American Snowsports Journalists Assn. (NASJA). and a former Board member of the Society of American Travel Writers.
Contact me at email@example.com.