Monday, February 22, 2010

Taxi Ride-sharing to Expand in NYC

The New York Times has an article about new taxi sharing in midtown New York. Along 3 cross-town routes that are not serviced by a subway ride without a transfer, "up to four passengers will be able to share a yellow taxi ride, car-pool style. The flat fare will be $3 or $4 a head, significantly less than the regular metered rates, and riders can ask to be dropped off at most points along the route." (The current taxi fare is $3 plus $2/mile.)

This seems like it's good for the riders (they pay less), for the environment (more people traveling in each vehicle), and the cab drivers (larger total fare). However, since it's decreasing the demand for taxicab trips, some cabbies are complaining:
“Every additional passenger that gets into one cab, that means a second cab is left empty,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “It’s horrible to implement a program like this in such hard economic times.”
While it's arguably bad for some drivers, it is very good for passengers, so the second argument doesn't make a lot of sense (except that in general, midtown taxi riders earn more money than taxi drivers).

What is interesting about this new plan is that the fare is not particularly higher than the $2.25 single ride on buses or subways operated by the MTA. So if there's such demand, I'd think the MTA could start running 8-to-13-passenger vans along these routes just charge the $2.25 base fare. Once you start adding more people to the vehicle, all the starting and stopping starts to add delays, but I bet most people are just going the full distance anyway so they could eliminate the midway stops.


  1. sharing a cab would cut down costs for passengers..sounds great to me..what do you guys think?

  2. I think the taxi driver's arguments are valid, they're losing a great deal of curtomers seeing as having 4 people in a taxi leaves 3 other taxis empty. But I'm sure like all changes, society will adapt, and seeing as there are alot of taxis in NY, it would be a significant reduction to carbon emmissions from vehicles in the city.

  3. Nomz: you are right, unless due to the laws of supply and demand, more people ride taxis on this route now. If you get lots of people that are willing to shell out four bucks but not $8.50 or whatever the normal fare is, then ridership *could* go up.