How NYC Could Revolutionize Urban Transport By Turning Its Taxi System Into A Sharing Economy

How NYC Could Revolutionize Urban Transport By Turning Its Taxi System Into A Sharing Economy

Stats show that 80% of all cab journeys in 2011 could have been shared.

Ross Brooks
  • 13 march 2014

Thanks to services such as Lyft, ride-sharing is now a much more accepted idea, except when it comes to the taxi business. Michael Szell at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, recently found out that 80% of all cab journeys in the city could have been shared. With more than150 million taxi trips taken in 2011, it’s clear that if people embrace the sharing economy, they could have an enormous environmental, and social impact on New York City.

The revelation comes as part of a project called HubCab, which could be the first step towards a fully-integrate taxi network that knows when two or more people are about to take the same route. People would only have to be willing to go three minutes out of their way each time to reduce the total number of trips taken each year.


Atlantic Cities did the math, and figured out that each trip carries one person (which isn’t specified in the data), and that two trips can reasonably be combined in the back seat of one cab, it would mean an NYC taxi network that produces 40 percent fewer trips. Just imagine the effect it would have on emissions, and not to mention traffic throughout the city.

Even though the percentage is likely to be much lower in real life, any amount of reduction in double-digits would be a significant leap forward. HubCab’s website also provides projections on how much money and CO2 emissions would be saved based on the pickup and drop-off points you select.


There are still plenty of issues that need to be addressed before a system of this scale can be implemented, but the point of the project is to show how much potential a sharing economy has when applied to taxis.

To see the 150 million trips that took place in 2011 plotted on a stunning interactive map, be sure to head over to the HubCab project’s website.

Source: TheAtlanticCities
Images: Senseable City Lab, Steve Wilson via Flickr

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