If people are willing to share any type of public transport, why are there so many taxis travelling in the same direction, with only one passenger on board? This question is now even more relevant, after a team of scientists at the MIT estimated that a taxi sharing program could reduce travelling time, prices, and eliminate huge amount of carbon emissions.
The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists yesterday, was conducted in New York, where the team analyzed all taxi trips, or 172 million to be more precise, that people have made in year 2011. Some routes appeared to be more popular than others, with LaGuardia Airport to the corner of Park Avenue and 57th Street being particularly busy.
Only in one year, there were 6,000 trips along this route. The scientists suggest that if 2,000 of these were shared, travelling time would have been reduced by 30%, prices by 40%, and 7,000 kg of carbon emissions could have been eliminated only from trips along this single route.
Although the idea for taxi sharing is not new in the U.S., no one has been able to implement it so far. Some 20 years ago, Chicago’s city officials decided to test such initiative, however they failed badly simply because the customers did not want to use the service. Maybe this time it will work out, after all quite a lot of time has passed since then, and people’s way of thinking and consideration for the environment have changed quite a lot.
For such idea to work, however, there has to be a strict, fair and clear way for passengers to share the cost, especially when one has to depart earlier than the other. In addition, there is that psychological barrier, or fear, to jump on a taxi with a complete stranger.
My personal view, I am very happy to share taxis with friends when we’re going in the same direction, and I will be happy to get someone I don’t know on-board if I am not alone. But, as much as it hurts me to say, I will be quite hesitant to ride with a stranger, especially if it is at night and I am on my own. Nevertheless, I wonder what the outcome of such program would be if it is tested now.
Image (c) Redux