Friday, August 26, 2011

The Importance of Taxis: Hurricane Edition

This weekend New York is expected to be hit squarely by a hurricane. As a precautionary measure, the MTA will shut down the subway system beginning Saturday afternoon. While weekend ridership is somewhat lower than weekday ridership, this means that this weekend over 5 million trips that are usually made by transit riders will be affected. Here is a piece from the Village Voice about how challenging regular weekend service work is, which concludes as follows:
The moral of this story: be rich enough to take cabs everywhere when you can't take the subway, and pay extra-special attention to those small posters the MTA puts up in stations so you know how difficult the struggle to leave your neighborhood will be. Of course, repairs have to be done, and at first glance it probably makes more sense to have them done on a Saturday afternoon than at 9 a.m. on Monday. But on closer inspection, it might not be that logical after all.

Cabs are a great complement to transit, and because of that I am happy to see that NYC has implemented emergency taxi rules for the weekend:
Yellow & livery cabs move to “zone-fare” plan on Saturday w/reduced fares, group rides, & liveries allowed to make street pick-ups

You can't have a robust transit system without a robust taxi network, and not just for emergencies. Taxis and transit are complements, and in the case of this hurricane, much needed redundancy. Since the transit system will be shut down, ferries will likely be too dangerous and walking will be insane, any activity that happens in the city this weekend will depend on taxis and liveries. (There are about 13,000 yellow cabs and 30,000 liveries, plus about 800 vans in the city.)

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