Which is cheaper to use in NYC: Uber or a taxi? Big Data Will Resolve The Problem

There has been much discussion lately about Uber, AirBnb, and the “sharing economy”. Many of the debates revolve around whether these services are in conflict with local or national laws. Or, on the other hand, the philosophical question: Are those corporations simply exploiting workers and parasiting existing infrastructures?

These cogitations can be fascinating and critics may have points. They sometimes overlook a simple truth. As Louise Veronica Ciccone (Madonna), would tell, “it is a material world.” Despite all the criticisms, these platforms will be popular because consumers believe they are more affordable than other options.

Here’s the fun part: Is this perception true? Uber may actually be the better option in New York City. Some scholars have found.

Data scientists from the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Namur in Belgium have compared hundreds of million of Yellow Taxi trips (using data obtained by Chris Wong in 2014, thanks to a FOIL Request) and the associated rates. They also compared the average cost of a trip to and from locations using Uber X – the cheapest service offered by the company.

They found that yellow taxis are on average 1.4 US Dollars cheaper than Uber X. It also depends on how far you are traveling to determine which option is cheaper. Prices below $35 dollars are more expensive, and Uber becomes cheaper after that price. A taxi is generally more affordable for short-range trips.

This study has some caveats. First, NYC yellow taxi data refers to 2013 while Uber is for 2014. Researchers point out that Yellow Taxi fares in NYC are set by the city and last changed in 2012. The 2013 prices should be a good estimate of today’s prices. Second, the study does not provide any indication of the travel time or day, which could have an impact on final estimates.

However, scientists believe that their research can help commuters. The good news is that they have also created a free smartphone application, Openstreetcab to prove their point. The software is available for both Android and iOS. It has a simple interface.


Users simply need to enter the trip destination and origin, then click the button “Uber or Yellow Cab?” The app will provide the answer like a modern-day oracle. If Uber is more expensive, the screen will display a black message saying “Take Uber”. If the reverse is true, the screen will be painted yellow with the message ‘Take a Yellow Cab.

The app is currently only available in New York City. Many people have requested that the service be expanded to other cities, but the possibility of seeing the app in these other major cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, San Francisco and San Francisco, will depend on whether similar open taxi datasets are available by local authorities, Anastasios NOULAS stated in a blog post. It is important to consider privacy issues. Before scientists can continue with their promising research, they must find ways to handle transportation datasets in a respectful and safe manner.

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