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Taxis By Algorithm: Streamlining City Transport With Graph Theory

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the upsetting-the-big-apple-cartel dept.

Transportation 72

New submitter Mark Buchanan (3595113) writes with a story about research from scientists at MIT, Cornell and elsewhere showing "that big city taxi systems could be made 40% more efficient with device-enabled taxi sharing. We could cut miles driven, costs, and pollution with the right application of just data and algorithms, and do it while introducing no more than a 5 minute delay to any person's trip. " Letting such algorithms compete seems an excellent reason to encourage, rather than reject by law, ride-coordination services like Uber and Lyft.

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72 comments

Actually (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46592877)

I don't want to share my cab.

Re:Actually (2, Insightful)

SpankiMonki (3493987) | about 4 months ago | (#46592989)

I don't want to share my cab.

...and it's unlikely you'll want to wait an *extra* 5-10 minutes to get where you're going either - especially if you're a Manhattanite. Further, if you live in Manhattan and are concerned about the cost of riding in a taxi, there's this thing they have there...what's it called...oh yeah, the subway.

Re:Actually (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 months ago | (#46593385)

Yeah, on the face of it, this really doesn't seem to make much sense. Taxis are a luxury. The whole point of them is you can jump in one at a moment's notice, and it'll take you wherever you want to go, with no delay other than that imposed by traffic. They're not cheap. If you want cheap and slow, that's what the subway and buses are for, or you can just walk.

Re:Actually (3, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 4 months ago | (#46593623)

And what makes you so certain there's not a market for a service halfway between taxis and buses/subway?

Re:Actually (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 months ago | (#46593693)

That's easy: the taxi companies don't want it. Sounds like you're proposing two classes of taxis; the regular ones we have now, and a cheaper version (perhaps painted green instead of yellow) where you have to share rides with other passengers, wait longer, etc. The short answer is: that can't be done. It's totally impossible. The existing taxi companies wouldn't want this, that's why.

Re:Actually (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 months ago | (#46593983)

Taxi companies are not the ones that will implement something like this. The disruptive system will be fleets of self-driving vehicles ranging from small cars up to minibusses, where you'll specify your journey on a smartphone and get a range of quotes based on how much slack you're willing to have in your schedule and how many people you're willing to share with, ranging from close to the price of a taxi to close to the price of a bus.

Re:Actually (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 months ago | (#46594419)

Taxi companies won't allow self-driving vehicles in NYC. It doesn't matter who wants to implement it. To get a license in NYC to operate a taxi costs a fortune, and the taxi companies would not allow any competition from such a system. It's simply going to be illegal to implement a system like what you describe.

Re:Actually (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 4 months ago | (#46594961)

A well regulated market, that ends up serving only those regulated, and not the customers, or anyone else for that matter. And liberals love regulated markets and think that there is nothing wrong with over-regulation.

Well, here is a GREAT example or the wonderfulness of REGULATION.

Nothing will change, because the status quo forbids it. And that is itself a problem

Re:Actually (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 months ago | (#46594993)

This isn't regulation, it's corruption. It's a common feature of crappy, third-world countries. Well-run countries don't have this problem so much. You wouldn't see this in liberal, high quality-of-life index countries like Switzerland.

Re:Actually (1)

s.pilgrim (254522) | about 4 months ago | (#46597751)

It is regulation, the corrupt part is called regulatory capture. But this is what happens, incumbents like regulation, because it raises the cost of entry for new opperators.

The other this you don't see in Switzerland is tipping at a guess also. sigh.

Re:Actually (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46606793)

And liberals love regulated markets and think that there is nothing wrong with over-regulation.

Damn those liberals! They want to destroy Tesla...oh, wait.

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

Re:Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46596515)

Taxi companies won't allow self-driving vehicles in NYC.

Who cares? NYC is 0.1% of world population.
If a solution makes sense but NYC does not want it, then someone else gets it first, simple as that.

Re:Actually (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 months ago | (#46597079)

This thread is about cabs in NYC.

Re:Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46594455)

In Honk Kong, there are mini-vans that takes on busy fixed routes that are priced higher than the bus, but run as soon as it is closed to filled.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_light_bus
>A passenger wishing to get on a red minibus simply hails the minibus from the street kerb like a taxi. A minibus can generally be hailed down at any point along a route, subject to traffic regulations, although sometimes particular stops are marked out. To alight from a minibus, a passenger customarily calls out to the driver where they wish to get off.

Re:Actually (1)

mikael (484) | about 4 months ago | (#46596853)

San Francisco International airport has shuttle buses - tell them where you want to go, and they would dynamically create a route that went through all destinations. Other cities offer shuttle buses booked in advance - tell them where you want to be picked up, and where you want to go, and they would dynamically create a route.

Some taxi services would allow multiple drop-off points. It was up to the customers to decide how the each segment of the route should be paid.

Re:Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46597371)

it already exists. Its called a shuttle.

Re:Actually (1)

njnnja (2833511) | about 4 months ago | (#46593767)

I don't think they are saying that the typical user will experience a 5 minute longer delay; rather, the typical user will experience a shorter wait time. If the entire system is 40% more efficient, then even if you have to wait a little longer because the cab goes a little out of your way, that should be offset by a lower wait time. *Some* users will experience higher wait + travel times, but as they say here, no more than a few minutes.

The reason that they bring it up is because there are certain kinds of optimizations that will optimize the heck out of the average value, but they make the worst value an order of magnitude worse. For example, imagine a new proposal that would keep all the cabs in densely populated downtown and never go uptown whenever there was anybody waiting downtown. If there was a big enough ratio of people downtown versus uptown, then the average trip length would get better under this proposal, but the worst waiting time (for the uptowners) would be terrible.

Having said that, part of the reason why people take cabs is to get exactly where they are going, as fast as they can. If they wanted to get approximately where they wanted to go, with more people onboard, they would take a subway (or even the bus).

Re:Actually (1)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 4 months ago | (#46595651)

Don't worry, taxi companies don't want you to share your cab either so this simply is not going to happen short of governmental decree. There may be one of those marketing stunts where they say they are using the tech but really are not upon investigation as is typical of such things.

So don't worry, your selfish need to waste energy and produce as many emissions as you can in the pursuit of laziness and personal comfort is safe!

Capitalism for the win!

Re:Actually (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about 4 months ago | (#46597867)

You've sort of hit on the problem and solution. What we need is something that is not called a "taxi" for this. Rather than taking the existing taxi system and adding ride sharing, we should supplement taxis with a new form of public transport based on this system. The new system would be somewhere between a bus and a taxi- a medium sized public vehicle (perhaps "minibus" size), but which would be summoned on demand and travel to your chosen destination like a taxi rather than travelling a fixed schedule like a bus.

This would solve both of the obvious problems- the first being that people who order taxis expect a private vehicle taking the shortest trip possiblem and the second being that existing taxi drivers and firms don't have a pricing system that could cope with this sort of change.

If you made the vehicles sufficiently sexy and space aged (rather than just using regular old minibuses), you could easily sell it as "the mass transit of the future". Since the vehicle wouldn't be expected to take huge numbers of people at a time (only really two or three small parties at once), you could make the insides suitably comfortable on a standard van frame.

Re:Actually (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | about 4 months ago | (#46605045)

Cool, then you can pay extra for the privilege! :)

Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (5, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 4 months ago | (#46592915)

Letting such agorithms compete seems an excellent reason to encourage, rather than reject by law, ride-coordination services like Uber and Lyft.

Taxi licensing laws aren't about giving the CUSTOMERS good service. They're about limiting competition so the licensed cab owners have a regulated oligopoly that limits competition and keeps the prices higher than market-clearing.

It's much like the laws limiting car sales to dealers that are giving Tesla such a problem.

This is crony capitalism at its most blatant.

Re:Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46593001)

yes and no.

Your claim is likely partially true. However, another reason for licensing laws is to reduce the amount of traffic on the road. More taxis on the road can mean more traffic congestion http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2012/01/20/more-taxis-mean-more-traffic/.

Re:Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (0)

udachny (2454394) | about 4 months ago | (#46593181)

Except all of these business related regulations and taxes and inflation produce the exact opposite results. So if you wanted to have fewer cars on the roads, you'd have to have a very efficient transit system and this includes very accessible (as in a very cheap) taxi service.

It's when anybody can afford a cab ride and cabs are extremely accessible (easy to order, so there is no shortage) you'll reduce number of cars on the roads, not when you create artificial barriers to entry, which keep prices up and prevent many people from even thinking about using cabs, so instead they drive cars.

Re:Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46593647)

Except all of these business related regulations and taxes and inflation produce the exact opposite results.

Nonsense. They're producing exactly the results people want.

So if you wanted to have fewer cars on the roads

People don't want fewer cars on the roads. People want fewer taxis on the roads, so they can keep driving their cars

It's when anybody can afford a cab ride and cabs are extremely accessible (easy to order, so there is no shortage) you'll reduce number of cars on the roads

More communist nonsense. Cars are people's private property. They're gonna drive them on roads (that their taxes paid for) as they please. It's also their taxes that pay government, and like hell they're going to pay taxes to fund your collectivist delusions of an efficient transit system that would drive them off the road.

No, free people got exactly what they wanted out of their tax dollars: a system that keeps taxi and transit at a minimum and maximize individual liberty to drive their cars

Re:Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 months ago | (#46593757)

Except all of these business related regulations and taxes and inflation produce the exact opposite results.

Nonsense. They're producing exactly the results people want.

So if you wanted to have fewer cars on the roads

People don't want fewer cars on the roads. People want fewer taxis on the roads, so they can keep driving their cars

Depends where you live -- if I'm heading downtown, i really don't want to drive... if I drive, I need to park my car (which is expensive), and it means that I have to stay around where my car is - if I want to park near the theater then hop a bus to meet some friends at a restaurant across town, I've got to go back to where my car was to get back home. It's much easier to hop on a bus to the theater, go to dinner, then call a cab for the ride home since I don't feel like waiting 20 minutes for a bus at 11pm.

It's when anybody can afford a cab ride and cabs are extremely accessible (easy to order, so there is no shortage) you'll reduce number of cars on the roads

More communist nonsense. Cars are people's private property. They're gonna drive them on roads (that their taxes paid for) as they please. It's also their taxes that pay government, and like hell they're going to pay taxes to fund your collectivist delusions of an efficient transit system that would drive them off the road.

No, free people got exactly what they wanted out of their tax dollars: a system that keeps taxi and transit at a minimum and maximize individual liberty to drive their cars

Again, it depends on where you live - where I live, people outnumber road capacity so much that driving is usually not very pleasant, I'm happy to take transit and/or taxis since it's usually faster and more convenient than driving.

Car costs (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 4 months ago | (#46594051)

There's even more to it especially in extreme downtowns. You mention that parking downtown is expensive - but picture if we managed to have a transportation system efficient enough that we didn't even need that much parking downtown. That parking garage could be another skyscraper. A few more of those and you might be able to justify some fancy people moving system like airport slideways, automated shuttles, etc...

You can even end up with a situation where an suburbanite like myself ends up walking more because of the trek from parking lot to building than the urbanites do, while never setting foot outside unless it's by choice.

Re:Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46596145)

More communist nonsense. Cars are people's private property. They're gonna drive them on roads (that their taxes paid for) as they please. It's also their taxes that pay government, and like hell they're going to pay taxes to fund your collectivist delusions of an efficient transit system that would drive them off the road.

How does this get modded up? This would be the exact opposite of communism, and instead would be very capitalistic to allow others to offer more options at different price ranges for taxis, without any involvement from the government. I own a car, but if taxis were cheaper I would use my car less in times and places I don't want to deal with traffic and parking (or want to be able to go out drinking, etc.). That doesn't mean giving up the car, it just means free association of paying someone else to ride in their car.

Re:Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (1)

mikael (484) | about 4 months ago | (#46596905)

Communists had Zil lanes. Lanes on the roads reserved exclusively for the ruling class being driven around in their bullet-proof limousines. Olympic officials did the same.

Re:Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46593813)

very accessible (as in a very cheap) taxi service.

Reducing supply increases price. That is basic econ 101 stuff.

Read these three chapters to show use cases
http://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/chap18p1.html
http://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/chap17p1.html
http://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/chap11p1.html

Re:Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 4 months ago | (#46593019)

Aren't the prices set by law too?

Cabs are regulated similar to the post-office, there are more and less profitable routes, and some subsidize others.

They don't want non-licensed services that can charge whatever they want to snipe profitable routes at a lower rate.

I'm not saying it's good, but it's really not a case of artificial scarcity. I know I've gone on routes that are higher than they like, and others where they'd be happy to negotiate a lower price.

Re:Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#46593241)

Aren't the prices set by law too?

The point is that they are set higher than a free market would provide.

Cabs are regulated similar to the post-office, there are more and less profitable routes, and some subsidize others.

Which is, of course, idiotic. There is no reason for routes to "cost the same". Should the government also regulate grocery stores so that oatmeal is the same price as filet mignon? That way all meals will cost the same.

They don't want non-licensed services that can charge whatever they want to snipe profitable routes at a lower rate.

You cannot repeal the laws of supply and demand. If you fix the price of bread, you get empty shelves. If you fix the price of taxi fares, you will have plenty of cabs lining up for the profitable routes, and no one willing to drive a black guy to Harlem at 11pm. Which is exactly what happens.

I'm not saying it's good, but it's really not a case of artificial scarcity.

It is not good, and it is absolutely a case of artificial scarcity. You are just arguing that it is motivated by cross subsidies, rather than rent-seeking cronyism. But if it was really just leveling the prices, then a taxi medallion wouldn't cost over a million dollars [nytimes.com] .

Re:Taxi licensing laws aren't about good service. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46594121)

Really? because Uber and Lyft have been noted by most as being significantly more expensive than traditional taxis. For me it has always been harder to get a cab during busy hours rather than off hours. Medallions that run close to $1M are corporate medallions earning likely around $2-300k/year revenue because they run the taxi nearly all day with different drivers.

Thing is, the regulations are both good and bad. There is good consumer protection AND cronyism at work. It's not fucking cut and dry no matter how your insane randian brain sees the world.

The only thing Uber et. al. bring to the table is a different set of assholes, a different set of problems, and a mobile app.

There is a case (1, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | about 4 months ago | (#46593177)

There is a case to be made for taxi regulation. It protects passengers, which is really the main reason taxi regulation exists. In order to fund that regulation, they allow companies artificial monopolies.

The last thing you want is a totally unregulated taxi industry. There is a reason these kinds of things became regulated in the first place.

Re:There is a case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46593361)

you make a case for standarization of service, but what does that got to do with restricting the number of service providers? As long as the adequate level of service is met, nobody cares about official taxi license.

Re:There is a case (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 4 months ago | (#46593579)

There usually is not any said restriction. There is a licensing fee and your service provider has to comply with the regulations, and then you are allowed in.

Now, New York and some cities actually restrict the number of cabs on the street. That, I think, is silly, and is indeed crony-ism.

Re:There is a case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46594219)

"There usually is not any said restriction. There is a licensing fee and your service provider has to comply with the regulations, and then you are allowed in."

Where would this be? Every city I am aware of has caps on the number of taxi medallions granted.

Re:There is a case (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 4 months ago | (#46595285)

The majority of cities don't even have "taxi medallions" so I think you are looking at a limited set. The only cities that have medallions according to wikipedia are Boston, NYC, and Chicago.

Re:There is a case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46593753)

Some one is going to have a lot of fun picking up an Uber or Lyft user, driving them to the middle of know where and robbing/killing them.

The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46592933)

And making a big city taxi system more efficient helps the existing taxi companies how?

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (2)

Calinous (985536) | about 4 months ago | (#46593053)

This can reduce waiting times in "taxi rush hour" - would you prefer to wait 15 minutes for "your own" taxi, or share one that comes in 5 minute?
Also, if the cab carries two different passengers, cab drivers get payment from each.
      In Athens, Greece, the cabs that carry one passenger might stop and take another one that goes in the same direction (and get full payment from one passenger and partial or full payment from the other). It helps a lot with the "I can't find a cab at this time" problem.

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 months ago | (#46593851)

This can reduce waiting times in "taxi rush hour" - would you prefer to wait 15 minutes for "your own" taxi, or share one that comes in 5 minute?

It's a Prisoner's Dilemma situation. If everybody were willing to wait the 5 minutes, that would be better for everybody. But the ideal situation for an individual is if everybody else shares while they themselves do not, thus avoiding even the 5 minute wait. Each person acting in their best interest individually leads to a poor outcome for everybody.

The bus is the same. If everybody decided (at once) to start riding the bus, it would be faster than everybody driving cars because there would be so little congestion on the streets, and so many bus routes. But since only a few people take the bus, the busses slog thorough the congestion, AND (being busses) have to stop all the time. So the situation persists.

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46594425)

Close. As far as I can tell, the first is invalid because you have no reason to believe the taxi will take you first. In fact, if there are 2 people in the queue, which is the only case in which anything changes, you have 50% chance of being first. The second seems valid for *one* occasion. However, generally, the winning solution for everyone to the *iterated* prisoners dilemma is, as far as we know, to co-operate and retaliate (perhaps with occasional, random forgiveness) when the number of times the prisoner's dilemma is played is random or unknown. This is called the tit-for-tat strategy.

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46594481)

HTML entities are not accepted.

Greater than or equal to two people
Less than or equal to fifty percent

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 months ago | (#46594545)

I am not sure how tit-for-tat can be directly generalized to large populations - the problem is there is always a large number defectors. But now that you mention it, perhaps "tragedy of the commons" is more correct than "prisoner's dilemma." As I look at the connection between the two on wikipedia, I find: "Many real-life dilemmas involve multiple players. Although metaphorical, Hardin's tragedy of the commons may be viewed as an example of a multi-player generalization of the PD: Each villager makes a choice for personal gain or restraint."

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about 4 months ago | (#46595031)

The bus is the same. If everybody decided (at once) to start riding the bus, it would be faster than everybody driving cars because there would be so little congestion on the streets, and so many bus routes. But since only a few people take the bus, the busses slog thorough the congestion, AND (being busses) have to stop all the time. So the situation persists.

But if everybody started taking the bus, the stops would be more frequent and longer. The congestion might be better, but your overall trip length might still be long due to all of the stopping that the bus has to do.

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (1)

grumpyman (849537) | about 4 months ago | (#46596297)

But like the bus system, there should be 'pricing' system that can make it work for all. I.e. taxi operators makes more (drive more ppl per trip), there's increase in wait time for people but the cost should be cheaper than before, and for people who doesn't want to share, well, higher price.

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46596619)

It's a Prisoner's Dilemma situation.

No it is not, because it is not a dilemma. The taxi company will benefit from sharing (by getting a single ride paid by several customers), thus it can and will reduce fares. The question becomes "fast unshared taxi for $20 vs slower shared taxi for $15 vs underground for $5". This becomes a normal business decision, and all services will get some of the customers / revenue.

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 4 months ago | (#46594123)

Also, if the cab carries two different passengers, cab drivers get payment from each.

Changing this, maybe so that each passenger only pays 75% or whatever, would fix the urge to have their own taxi. Saving ~$10 can do that.

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (1)

tedlistens (1697590) | about 4 months ago | (#46596373)

Yep. I think as other people have pointed out, solving these problems always depends upon thinking about the context, the benefits and the costs involved.

In situations where people are a lot of people are waiting for not many taxis—like the airport—sharing doesn't just mean a cost incentive but a time incentive too. Sharing in these situations is beneficial to both passengers and taxis, who spend less time waiting in long lines, and it benefits the transportation hub and the city as a whole. People get moving cheaper and faster, using what already exists.

(I know this works because I'm working on it now at the NYC-based taxi-sharing company Bandwagon—http://www.bandwagon.io)

Re:The "level playing field" taxi companies demand (2)

fullmetal55 (698310) | about 4 months ago | (#46593063)

less wasted time and fuel on empty cabs...

Why would a taxi company want this? (1)

faffod (905810) | about 4 months ago | (#46592985)

[I was beaten to this by an AC, but since many filter AC comments I'll jump in...] The Taxi companies have no interest in something that will effectively reduce their revenue.

Re:Why would a taxi company want this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46593023)

Really, it's the Taxi commission which would decide, but since they might lose revenue too it's just as much a non starter. Find a way to get the City 40% more money out of the scheme, though, and it'll happen.

Re:Why would a taxi company want this? (1)

fermion (181285) | about 4 months ago | (#46595797)

the fallacy is comparing ride share services with Taxis. They are different. One is regulated service provided to make sure that public can be assured of a higher level of transportation than fixed rate public transport, the other is an ad hoc less regulated service akin to hiring a limo. I am sure no one here would make the argument that Uber is a ripoff because it costs more than a bus?

There are two problem with the ride share services. First is liability. Those who provide the service are often do not commerical insurance. Therefore any incident that occurs during commercial operation may not be covered. Likewise, companies like uber is only really responsible when a passenger is being transported, otherwise they would be open to huge liability. The limits of liability when a driver is simply logged on is minimal. To make it work, service like Uber should either require commercial insurance, or for a few provide required ad hoc insurance anytime a driver is 'on the clock'.

Second is safety. Taxi service is one of the most dangerous jobs out there. I don't know of any significant incident yet, but it is just a matter of time. At some point a driver is going to die, there is going to other lawsuits, and the model is going to be tested.

That said, there should be a new model in which taxis can vary the fee structure, compete on service, and provide to specific needs.

BETA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46592999)

DELETE yOOOoooooooooooooURRSELLF@!!!!!!!!!!!

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

FML

"Dolmush" (5, Interesting)

should_be_linear (779431) | about 4 months ago | (#46593029)

In Turkey, I saw even better thing. Idea is this: public transport bus is too slow and awkward: stops are either sparse - lots of walking, or dense - making traveling too slow, and taxi for single person is too expensive (fuel + driver). In Turkey these is this "Dolmush" thing, which is mini-bus, that stops anywhere (like Taxi), costs fix rate (like public transport) and is just practical. It kicks ass of all other forms of public transport *AND* computerized car/taxi sharing.

Re:"Dolmush" (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#46593539)

I bet you a Dolmush guided by a computerized transportation-sharing network would be even more efficient and profitable.

Re:"Dolmush" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46593649)

That actually sounds quite good.

Better than a bus since it will get you to places off-route quicker, and better than taxi because it could be more expensive due to the fact they need to pay for inactive periods and lesser activity more than they would.

Buses are great if you need to get to really popular areas fairly quickly, especially if they are on main roads or town roads, but outside of those they can be a pain in the ass most times due to limited routes.
And more so, if you are old or disabled in some way, even more of a pain because of the walking involved.
It already works well for old people over here in the UK, there are quite a few cab services for old people that are run by companies to take them to group activity places to keep them active and having fun, so I don't see why it couldn't work for the general public at large.

Re:"Dolmush" (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 4 months ago | (#46594889)

According to the USA's National Transit Database, this kind of "demand response" system costs Los Angeles $7.83 per passenger mile [ntdprogram.gov] , compared with $1.43 for buses and 42 cents for commuter buses. So it's very costly.

Re:"Dolmush" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46596923)

marshrutka [wikipedia.org]
pesero [wikipedia.org]
dolmus [wikipedia.org]

Minibuses serving fixed routes with stops on demand were common part of ex-USSR public transit system, and they still exist in all countries around here.

Sharing pilots in NYC (4, Insightful)

clinko (232501) | about 4 months ago | (#46593261)

There was a pilot for this program 4 years ago in NYC:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02... [nytimes.com]

Also there was strike that mandated it 7 years ago for a few days.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09... [nytimes.com]

In short, no one liked it. If people wanted to have a delayed trip and people with them, they'd just take the Subway.

Law (1)

puddingebola (2036796) | about 4 months ago | (#46593479)

We have a dominant Taxi company in the city where I live, one so influential and powerful that it has landed a former city councilman in Federal court for accepting bribe money to stifle competition from other companies. They are, of course, bringing some serious legal pressure to bear on our politicians for allowing Uber to operate independent of codes regulating the taxi business. Seems that the biggest barriers to improving cab transportation are existing regulations and conflict with existing companies, not technical. In Dallas, the attempt to stifle Uber went so far as to include police stings of Uber drivers: http://www.dallasobserver.com/... [dallasobserver.com] Either existing taxi companies need to adopt new technologies like this on their own, or citizens have to demand restructuring of the rules governing them. It seems in many places that taxi companies view these more as a threat than a benefit.

Problem is in New York... (4, Interesting)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 4 months ago | (#46593605)

The law is a cab is legally bound to take you anywhere in the five boroughs, whether they want to or not. Of course, if you tell them where you want to go before you get in, there's not much you can do to force the issue, except maybe getting their plate number and report it, which you probably won't do anyway. So savvy NYers don't give up the destination until they're in the cab.

Long story short, a system that requires you provide both the pickup AND arrival points will require some serious clampdowns to keep uptowners and outer-borough folk from being left out in the cold.

.

More efficient for whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46593765)

40% more efficient for each individual getting the ride? Those are the people the companies exist to serve. Or 40% more efficient for the company? 40% more efficient for who?

Maximising the wrong thing? (4, Interesting)

pr0nbot (313417) | about 4 months ago | (#46594013)

As far as cabbies are concerned, the optimum algorithm will be whatever maximises their revenue. Any algorithm that doesn't will probably be vulnerable to cheating, i.e. a rogue cabbie that can make more money exploiting some aspect of the algorithm will do so.

Fairness v. Fareness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46594629)

On that note, I'd like to see an analysis this system on the economics of taxi operations. Shaving 40% off total miles driven would seem to have a significant impact on a cabby's income unless the sharers are charged the same as they would be otherwise. Additionally, if there's a delay, who pays for the time and mileage?

Sure there's a positive environmental impact, but it seems as if there's an additional cost born by someone, even though the miles driven goes down. Both fairness and fareness demand some explanation here.

ride sharing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46594415)

My daughter and I do not want to share a cab with your drunk ass friend. No thanks.

Re:ride sharing (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 4 months ago | (#46600065)

Why are you out with your daughter at the bar at 4 a.m.?

Not how taxi drivers want it (1)

slapout (93640) | about 4 months ago | (#46595919)

I had a friend tell me about the time he filled in for a day as a dispatcher for a cab company. He said he tried to do it efficiently by looking at where the customer was and where the closest non-busy taxi was and sending that one. Turns our the taxi drivers didn't like it. They wanted him to send them out in order so they all got the same number of fares.

Solution (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 4 months ago | (#46597727)

Split all the fairs evenly to all drivers - since fairs are decided by millage anyway it shouldn't be a big deal... unless they figure it out and realize fewer miles are being driven with a efficient system. If they don't charge for the distance to the pick up, then that factor would be a lower overhead cost and save them money.

Tips. Well, that is not actually randomly distributed so I could see complaints about not getting more time around certain areas at certain times. They won't ever agree to pool tips.

How about you just save up as a company and replace all the humans with robots in a decade.

Extend this idea to all cars and traffic lights (1)

OutputLogic (1566511) | about 4 months ago | (#46597681)

I'd extend this idea to all cars and traffic lights. If cars could talk to traffic lights and each other, that'd save tons of time, miles driven, costs, and pollution. Such a network can optimize car routes to choose less congested ones, recommend car speeds, and change traffic lights accordingly to provide green light corridors.

Re:Extend this idea to all cars and traffic lights (1)

lazy genes (741633) | about 4 months ago | (#46607235)

Still not sustainable enough for 7 billion people. We need to go twice as fast with no accidents, 24/7 in every weather condition and on the 1 /10th the amount of energy. The only way to do this is to put the cars on rails and let a computer drive it.

Re:Extend this idea to all cars and traffic lights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46607481)

WAZE

IE: Openstreetmap

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