George Lutfallah has been driving a cab in Chicago for 16 years and is the publisher of the Chicago Dispatcher, a weekly newspaper for Chicago’s taxicab industry. Through the years, he’s been stockpiling transit tips to help navigate Chicago’s most traffic-addled streets and ill-mannered passengers.
“Letting a driver know that you’re in a hurry at the outset can help motivate a cab driver to get to a destination faster, but pressuring a driver throughout the trip becomes counterproductive,” Lutfallah says. “Let the driver know you’re in a hurry, and then let him work. Don’t give a cabdriver a hard time for not blowing red lights for you!”
To cut across the city from east to west, “Montrose can be really good during rush hour.”
Getting to O’Hare from the Loop or the North Side, “I’ve used Higgins or Elston as alternates to I-90.”
“Archer Avenue is a way to get to Midway if the Stevenson is really jammed. The Stevenson has to be really jammed, though, as in a huge accident.”
People riding in a cab don’t know “that cabdrivers hate getting stuck in traffic as much as or more than you do. We make a lot more money when we’re moving.”
Cab customers should avoid “talking softly or looking out the window when they’re talking,” Lutfallah says, because it’s often difficult to hear through the divider that separates the front and back seats. “Also, for passengers riding alone,” he says, “sitting directly behind me always makes me nervous.”
To hail a cab, “Show some leg. Seriously, though, be on the right side of the street in the direction you plan to travel. Avoid being in a ‘no standing or stopping’ area, because drivers can get tickets by picking you up there.”