What It’s Like Driving with Yellow Cab of San Francisco: Driver Experience Driving a Taxi

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to lease a taxi from Yellow Cab? While rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft have gained so much popularity, I was pleased to learn that cab drivers are still super busy and able to earn a decent profit in many cities.

Drivers and passengers need options, and there is plenty of room on the road for everyone. I recently interviewed a Yellow Cab driver named Joseph Mullins about his experience as a taxi driver these past three years.

Keep reading to learn more about what driving a taxi is really like and debunk some common myths about the job.

This article was sponsored by Yellow Cab but opinions are, as always, our own. 

Yellow Cab Company Overview

Maybe you’ve heard of Yellow Cab before, or you’ve seen the signature yellow cars sitting outside of the airport or a train station. Did you know that Yellow is actually not a nationwide company, despite what many think? The Yellow Cabs in different cities are actually independently owned and have no affiliation with each other. Yes, Yellow Cab of San Francisco is independently run!

Take a listen to how Yellow Cab of San Francisco works here: Driving A Yellow Cab


Originally founded in Chicago, IL, more than 100 years ago, many states and cities have launched their own Yellow Cab operations to service passengers all over. Joseph Mullins has been working in the taxi industry since 2010, but he’s been leasing from Yellow Cab specifically for the past 3 years.

I talked to Joseph about how he got started with Yellow Cab of San Francisco, how much he earns, and strategies he has for other Yellow Cab and rideshare drivers.

Interested in driving with Yellow Cab of San Francisco? Get started here!

How did you hear about Yellow Cab and what steps did you take to get started?

A friend told me he was making decent money as a taxicab driver, and I thought I’d give it a try since I know my way around the city pretty well. I went down to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in my area to apply.

They require you to pass a background check and provide some basic training videos about driving a cab and how the process worked. I originally started driving with Desoto Cab company, which is now Flywheel. Then, three years ago, I switched to Yellow Cab.

Do you have to provide your own vehicle?

No, I actually lease my vehicle from Yellow Cab for $750 per week. I split the car with a friend of mine who drives nights while I drive this day shift. Thanks to this arrangement, we both only pay $375 to lease the cab.

How do you get or accept rides?

Yellow Cab uses a dispatch system to match drivers with rides. Each time a person calls or requests a ride online, their request gets dispatched to a driver who works in the district where their pick-up location is.

I have an Android tablet inside the taxi so I can see ride requests and bid on them from there. Bidding on a ride is another way to say you’re accepting it or you’re willing to take it.

Once I’ve accepted a ride, my tablet shows me all the directions and details.

Learn why leasing a taxi from Yellow Cab of San Francisco is better than just driving for Uber: 8 Reasons Why San Francisco Taxi Driving Beats Driving for Uber


What’s your typical work schedule like and is there downtime?

I typically work Monday through Friday from 7 am to 7 pm. Sometimes I get off earlier, around 5 or 6 pm. I also occasionally work Sundays if I feel like it. Otherwise, I just stick to Monday – Friday.

In my city, it’s always busy, and I feel like there aren’t enough taxi drivers to keep up with demand. The work is pretty consistent though.

How much do you make and how do you get paid?

I usually make around $300 to $500 per day. The meter starts at $4.10 when someone first enters the car. Then it increases by $0.65 for every 1/5 of a mile. About 65% of my daily rides are San Francisco Paratransit rides.

How much can taxi drivers really earn in SF? Take a look at this video and interview here: How Much MONEY Can Taxi Drivers Earn In SF?!


Paratransit is a government-subsidized taxi program for people who are unable to independently use or access public transportation due to a disability or health condition. These passengers pay a lower fee to ride while the city pays for the remainder of their fare.

I receive the payments for paratransit rides via direct deposit every Tuesday. Passengers can also pay for their ride via credit card since I have a terminal in my car and use Square for this. I receive credit card payments every 2 days, and I get cash payments instantly, of course.

People are welcome to tip if they want to, but I don’t expect it or pressure people to.

Common Myth: Taxi rides are more expensive, so fewer people leave tips.

Joseph says that he still gets tips because he focuses on being friendly and providing professional service. Right before my interview with him, he was taking a passenger to the airport, which was a $62 fare. The passenger enjoyed the pleasant ride and left him a $20 cash tip! 

How do you handle vehicle maintenance? 

Since I lease a car from Yellow Cab, they cover all the maintenance and any repairs. I just take the car to one of their garages for servicing.

Are you a W-2 employee or are you responsible for your own taxes?

I’m an independent contractor, so I fill out a 1099 form at the end of the year and submit a profit-loss form. I like to deduct expenses like my phone bill, bridge tolls, gas, and even my tax preparer’s fee.

There are no benefits or retirement savings options, but I actually like being a 1099 worker right now since I can have a flexible schedule and earn more money.

Interested in driving with Yellow Cab of San Francisco? Get started here!

Tips For Taxi Drivers

Joseph has a few tips for taxi drivers looking to be successful and maximize their earnings.

1. Accept Every Bid

Joseph says that he stays busy and accepts every bid that comes through on his tablet. Since Yellow Cab provides all the direction information, he doesn’t worry about knowing how to get there or being unfamiliar with the area.

He also sets income goals for the day or week and strives to earn $500 during his 12-hour shift from 7 am to 7 pm. Having a daily schedule and some structure in his routine helps his income stay more consistent.

2. Drive Safely For Yourself and Your Passengers

Joseph also mentioned how important it is to drive safely and obey the rules of the road.

“Running red lights to get to your destination faster or rushing, in general, isn’t worth it,” he added. “This only increases your chances of getting a ticket or, worse, getting into an accident, which will cost you even more.”

Safe driving will also help your passengers feel more comfortable and perhaps be more inclined to leave a tip.

3. Stay Organized

A taxi driver’s days are busy. It’s important to stay organized so you can track all your payments coming in from different sources, along with your deductible expenses.

Doing this will make tax time a lot easier.

Driver Requirements

Interested in leasing a taxi from Yellow Cab? You’ll need to have a valid driver’s license and no more than three moving violations on your record.

You should also have no more than one at-fault accident on your record in the past three years and no felony convictions within the past ten years. If you meet these requirements, you can apply online or head to your nearest transportation or Yellow Cab office to get started.

8 Reasons Why You Should Drive a Taxi in San Francisco Vs. Drive for Uber

1) Earnings

One of the top taxi companies in San Francisco is Yellow Cab. They have a fleet of 300 vehicles, and Yellow Cab has been around since the 1950s. The current owners have owned Yellow Cab since 2017.

But what about earnings? According to the CEO of Yellow Cab, Chris Sweis, top earners can take home up to $3,000 a week. Drivers do not receive paystubs since they’re contractors, but typical shifts add up to $3,000 a week, according to Yellow Cab. According to data from Yellow Cab, the top 25% of earners earn $6,000 and up per month.

Just like with rideshare driving, this number depends on how many hours you drive, the volume of accepted rides, and the types of rides given. And of course, how good of a driver you are!

2) No commission

With taxi companies like Yellow Cab, drivers keep all their earnings. That’s right – there are no booking fees or service fees that you pay into Yellow Cab with each fare.

We know this is a huge issue for rideshare drivers – how many times have you been surprised by Uber or Lyft taking 40%+ of your earnings?

So how does Yellow Cab make money? As a taxi driver, you pay a flat $700 a week to rent their vehicle, and you get to keep the rest. Yellow Cab also covers the maintenance of rented vehicles, which can be a big burden for drivers. This is a great deal if you’re a full-time driver and if you know how to leverage tips.

In addition to covering maintenance, Yellow Cab offers Ford Fusions and Escape Hybrids to their drivers. Use the hybrid option to save even more on gas costs.

Being able to keep your full fare is something rideshare drivers have wanted for ages. As a taxi driver for Yellow Cab, you get that right away.

3) No wear and tear on your personal vehicle

As a Yellow Cab taxi driver, you rent a vehicle from Yellow Cab instead of using your vehicle, so you’ll have no maintenance costs or added wear and tear to worry about. You don’t even have to worry about paying for car insurance. That is included in your rental payment!

4) Transit lane access

If you’re familiar with San Francisco, you know that there are certain lanes that personal vehicles (including Uber and Lyft drivers) are not allowed to use and that there are prohibited left turns if using a personal vehicle.

An example of what transit lanes look like in San Francisco

As a Yellow Cab driver, you’d be able to take advantage of these transit perks. Your ability to make many left turns where private vehicles can’t and use of the red Transit Lanes allow you to complete trips faster and move on to the next ride with reduced trip durations.

You’ll also have happier passengers by getting them to their destination faster.

5) Live dispatchers and support staff

As a Yellow Cab taxi driver, If something goes wrong while you’re driving, someone can speak with you whenever you need. Yellow Cab, for instance, has live dispatchers and in-person staff who can support you in your business from their office in San Francisco.

This kind of support is hard to find in the ridesharing world, where support prefers you to send a chat or email instead of calling for immediate assistance.

6) Curb access at the SFO airport

Taxi stands at SFO are conveniently located across the street from baggage claim. Passengers can walk across the street to you rather than going up three floors to the TNC Lot.

Taxi drivers are provided an app by SFO that manages their queue position to pick up there. Minimize downtime by working until your turn to pick up at SFO!

7) Commercial vehicle access

Similar to the perks at the airport and with the transit lane access, as a Yellow Cab driver, you’ll have access to Market Street and other similar locations where only commercial vehicles are allowed, giving you better access to your passengers.

8) Curbside hails

Be able to pick up any and all passengers, not just ones that have booked a ride through the app. You’ll have more flexibility in earning potential by being able to drive downtown or elsewhere and pick up passengers who flag you down instead of being limited to whoever books a ride through the app, like with Uber.

So could taxi driving be the right next move for you? If you’re a San Francisco driver or are considering becoming one, we recommend you look into taxi driving with a company like Yellow Cab. Check it out and see if it’s something you may be interested in!

What do you think about being a taxi driver? Is it something you would be interested in, in addition to driving for rideshare, if it was all on one seamless app?

-Chonce @ RSG