An article in Salon on Sunday offers a good overview of the recent MIT study on the potential sharability of the average New York city taxi ride. While ride sharing is popular in other countries, especially in Europe (see my recent post on Blablacar), and collectivos or other forms of shared or informal busses exist in many countries, Americans remain holdouts riding solo in their cars.
I wrote recently about the simultaneous release of ridesharing apps by Lyft, Sidecar and Uber. And there is the new company Bandwagon facilitating the ridesharing of conventional taxis. But this idea of ridesharing (traditionally known as carpooling) has not yet taken off in the United States.
The Salon article explained the study findings: “If New Yorkers were willing to share a taxi with just one other party, and tolerate a maximum of 150 seconds of additional travel time, approximately 70 percent of NYC cab rides could be shared. Taxi travel time would drop by 25 percent. The total distance traveled by New York City cabs would fall by 40 percent, relieving traffic, reducing air pollution and speeding up travel for everyone else on the road.”
I find long distant ridesharing great for travel: it’s an alternative to more expensive options like flights or trains, and it provides travelers with the opportunity to meet locals. But within cities taxi ridesharing also provides travelers with a cheaper option to get around where busses or other public transit isn’t available.
Having recently published my cynical take on the Uber and Lyft battle for drivers, I offer this Salon piece as a positive perspective on the potential environmental value of peer to peer ride and taxi sharing.