Traffic in NYC, photo via joiseyshowaa on Flickr
As New York City’s failure-prone subway system continues to disappoint, some commuters are turning to ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft to reach their destinations instead. While getting picked up by a car is easy, especially in the busiest areas of Manhattan, the bumper-to-bumper traffic makes getting anywhere actually more difficult. A report released by Bruce Schaller, a former deputy city transportation commissioner, found that one-third of ride-hailing cars and yellow cabs are often driving on the city’s most congested blocks without any passengers, creating unnecessary traffic (h/t New York Times). As a way to reduce car congestion, officials are considering a new fee on for-hire vehicles, possibly a way to raise money for the strapped-for-cash MTA.
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Image by Grant Wickens via flick CC
As far back as 2015, 6sqft reported that the Port Authority was considering fees for vehicles pulling up curbside to drop off or pick up passengers at New York City’s airports as a way to reduce the congestion that has worsened since services like Uber and Lyft have arrived. The city’s airports are among the only ones in the U.S. that don’t charge curbside access fees. Now the Daily News has obtained a Port Authority draft proposal outlining the proposed fees. Taxi and hired car passengers could be hit with a $4 charge for each trip in and out of Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports as early as next year. The fee would be charged to the car operators and would presumably be passed to passengers
The idea is not getting a warm reception
6sqft recently shared analysis that 3,000 ridesharing vehicles could replace the city’s fleet of 13,587 taxis. And while this was more a comment on how carpooling can decrease congestion and emissions, it also points to a changing landscape for yellow cabs. In a piece this weekend, the Times looks at how taxis have fallen out of favor with New Yorkers since apps like Uber and Lyft came onto the scene; these vehicles now number more than 60,000. In 2010, for example, yellow cabs made an average of 463,701 trips, 27 percent more than the 336,737 trips this past November, which also resulted in a drop in fares from $5.17 million to $4.98 million. And just since 2014, the cost of a cab medallion was cut in less than half of its former $1.3 million price tag.
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If the city is looking to cut down on emissions and reduce traffic, here is some food for thought courtesy of folks over at MIT. Researchers at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have determined that 3,000 ridesharing vehicles have the potential to do the same amount of work as NYC’s fleet of roughly 14,000 taxis—that is if New Yorkers are willing to use rideshare carpooling like Lyft Line and Uber POOL.
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- Lyft Launches Tonight in New York: After hitting more than a few speed bumps in the road, regulators are giving Lyft the green light, but not without concessions. The Verge has more on the deal struck.
A Google Maps trekker, image © Michael Appleton/NYT (left); A branded Lyft vehicle (right)