Gateway Arch, St. Louis - St. louis taxiHail to St. Louis and its cheap rate when you hail a taxi! The city pulled the flag down on the lowest average fare in the nation, according to a survey of major cities by TaxiFareFinder.com. St. Louis' five-mile average of $8.33 kicks Boston's nation-high $16.52 to the curb.

"We get many compliments on our rates being lower than that of other cities," Basil Rudawsky, president of St. Louis County Cab, told WalletPop.

Kansas City, Los Angeles and Honolulu are parked near the priciest, in the $15 per-5-mile range. New York falls surprisingly in the middle at $12.90. This NYC-based WalletPopper would rather walk 70 blocks than pay one cent to a hack, but I might change my mind if I lived in St. Louis."This will sound corny, but Midwest people are down to earth, compassionate people and we all know that everybody is hurting right now and so we're just glad to provide a service for a decent rate," Rudawsky said.

Only it's not quite as decent as the survey indicates, Rudawsky explained. He said the numbers across the nation appeared outdated, as in a little low. But the approximate order of cities could still hold if the data were gathered around the same time, he said.

The chart was up-to-date as of Feb. 13, TaxiFareFinder said on its site, though it clearly states the stats are for reference only and not to be taken as the cabbie gospel. We wanted to ask TaxiFaresFinder how and when it gathered its research, but our email inquiry was passed by like an old lady requesting a ride from Manhattan to the outer boroughs.

As for the recent uptick in fares, the truly up-to-date digits for St. Louis have climbed into the $12 range for five miles, Rudawsky said, with one local company, ABC, at around $11. Chicago, the second-lowest on the TaxiFareFinders rankings at $8.80 for five miles, costs more now, too. One of the Windy City's biggest companies, 303, gets about $12 for five miles.

One might argue that St. Louis is low because the cost of living is relatively low. Yet take a look at in-state neighbor Kansas City. It ranks near the top for average fare. And if you're going to get stuck in traffic, K.C. is the worst place to crawl. Cabbies there collect $40 an hour in wait time, by far the most, according to the study.

But why play back-seat critic? While the meter's running, let's celebrate St. Louis, home to the Gateway Arch, Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, and taxi drivers who put their cost-saving mettle to the pedal.

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