Marc Brunton caused a small cut to the victim's throat, while he pleaded for him to stop and to be left alone.
Brunton got away with a coin bag but has left the cabbie with flashbacks, anxiety and always feeling "on high alert and unsafe".
Newcastle Crown Court heard the driver had picked up Brunton from the Metro station in Hebburn and took him to Stanhope Road in South Shields last December.
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Brunton said he had to leave the car and get cash at the destination, while the driver waited outside.
Prosecutor Andrew Walker told the court: "The defendant then returned a few minutes later, this time with a hood up and probably having armed himself witha knife, if he hadn't already had it on him from the earlier part of the journey.
"The defendant went to the rear of the taxi, initially claiming he had dropped some cash in the back, pretending to look for it.
"Thereafter, things took a different turn. The defendant held out the knife to the throat of the complainant and started demanding he hand over his coin bagcontaining his takings from that night.
"The complainant pleaded with the defendant to leave him alone but the defendant persisted, threatened to kill him and put the knife to his neck and said he would cut his throat, he swore on his children's lives he would cut his throat."
The court heard the victim, who repeatedly said "please, no" during the one minute and 20 second attack, was asked if he wanted to see his family again.
Mr Walker added: "He was in fear for his life and said 'are you going to kill me because of the money' and the defendant replied 'yes'. "
Brunton, 31, of Stanhope Road, South Shields, who has previous convictions for robbery and violence, admitted robbery and having a bladed article.
Judge Robert Spragg sentenced him to nine years behind bars with a five year extended licence period.
The judge told him: "There is a significant risk of you committing further specified offences and a significant risk of you causing serious harm thereby.
"You have not caused serious harm but there is a significant risk you will do so.
"You held a knife to a man's throat and threatened to kill him."