3,000 Ride-Sharing Vehicles Could Replace 13,500 Taxis in NYC

By Nathaniel Scharping | January 5, 2017 5:05 pm

(Credit: Luciano Mortula/Shutterstock)

New York City taxis, they ain’t so smart — yet.

A new study from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) estimates that just 3,000 ride-sharing cars guided by an algorithm could serve the needs of busy New Yorkers. That’s compared to the roughly 13,500 taxis currently in operation in the city, famous for its frenzied rush hours.

May I Have This Ride?

The researchers used taxi data from the University of Illinois spanning 2010-2013 for their analysis, and constructed an algorithm that matched together riders heading the same direction to minimize the number of trips each car had to make. Not only can the system put similar riders together, it can also dynamically allocate cars to high-traffic areas — say, Yankee Stadium during the ninth inning. The researchers say their system requires an average wait time of only 2.8 minutes, and would add just a few minutes to trips. They published their work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Allowing for a more diverse selection of cars reduces the number necessary even further — just 2,000 10-passenger vans could cover 95 percent of the need, and a combination of different kinds of vehicles could be even more efficient.

Don’t Go Here, Go There

The system relies on integer linear programming, a computing method that lists all of the requests and vehicles available and then matches that to all of the possible routes. Any vehicles left over get sent to areas where more cars might be needed soon, to cut down on wait times. The researchers say that their system, especially when paired with self-driving cars, would cut down on traffic jams, air pollution and travel times.

Companies like Uber and Lyft do already offer ridesharing options to customers, although only in select cities. UberPool and Lyft Line let users choose an option to share their trip with others going in a similar direction in exchange for a reduced price. The system has been met with mixed reviews, especially from drivers, who lose out on money when they combine trips. Nevertheless, the concept of ride-sharing seems to be gaining traction, with Uber reporting 50,000 ride-shares in one week in New York City alone, and Lyft estimating that around a third of its rides there are shared.

Each company relies on proprietary software to create routes, but, as this latest study shows, the concept is solid. As long you’re fine with spending your morning commute confined to a metal box with complete strangers, of course.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
  • OWilson

    A good programmer or engineer, could easily design an algorithmic program that could reduce traffic and increase flow by 90%, if it were regulated and enforced by law. Ban private cars and taxis, and allow buses and trains only.

    In an almost completely unregulated society I am familiar with, they have taken matters into their own hands and divided up the methods of individual transportation.

    Going down the list in order, they have planes, (no trains) buses, guagus (passenger vans), private taxis, publico taxis, and motoconchos.

    Folks choose their own mode based on the distance, their budget, their comfort level, even their size (they can buy 2 seats in a bus or publico) and travel more comfortably.

    A typical 30 minute ride to the supermarket can range from $35 down to a dollar, depending on your choice.

  • http://www.mobileapptelligence.com/car-rental/index.html Car Rental

    All in one vehicle rental software for car aggregators including reservations, rentals, fleet management and agency management.

    • OWilson

      You have a point!

      Government is one big waste of a monopoly.

      Everything from car rentals, auto and all other insurances, could benefit by pooled resources.

      In theory, socialism or even communism could work, if it wasn’t for human nature.

      Seductive in theory, but In practice governments are, well I could go on, but let’s just say the former Secretary of State and candidate for President, amassed, according to the Washington Post, a Global “Family” Empire worth $3,000,000,000.00 from the foreign governments she was dealing with, while Secretary of State, and covered it all up by running the State Department’s business out of a bathroom server.

      At least capitalism gives us all a level playing field to be selfish, nobody should be too big to fail, or too big to jail!


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar