Thursday, July 12, 2012

Today's Taxi News: July 12, 2012

The New York Daily News picked up on some new research by Matt Daus, Jon Peters and me where we looked at NYC yellow cabs taking fares in New Jersey. Here is the story. From the article:

Yellow cab drivers make hundreds of thousands of pickups and dropoffs in the Garden State each year — even though though their services are needed in the five boroughs — an analysis of GPS data revealed.
The numbers crunching by a team of experts found that yellow cabs annually make more than 360,000 trips that start in New Jersey. And nearly 160,000 trips begin and end in Hudson County alone, the researchers told the Daily News.
“New York City taxis are doing a better job serving the needs of Hudson County than Staten Island, or southeast Brooklyn or eastern Queens,” said Jonathan Peters, a finance professor at the College of Staten Island.
Peters, former city Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman Matthew Daus and David King, an assistant professor at Columbia University, analyzed GPS data for 3 million randomly selected taxi trips. They used it to figure out how much business hacks were doing on the other side of the Hudson in one’s year time.
James Fallows rounds up the reporting on Uber's successful regulatory challenge in Washington, D.C. at this link.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to raise taxi fares by 17 percent starting in September. This should be good for drivers. Not only will they get higher wages and tips, but six cents from each taxi ride will go into a healthcare fund for drivers. Hopefully we can estimate the elasticity of demand for certain types of rides from this natural experiment.

In Vancouver, TransLink announced that it will maintain a taxi voucher program for disabled people. From the story:

Admitting that TransLink failed to fully understand how disabled people use its services, the agency’s board chair announced Wednesday it is reversing a decision to eliminate a program that provided taxi discount coupons for them.
“I regret any angst we have caused for people. That was never the intent,” said Nancy Olewiler. The board chair formally announced the TaxiSaver program would continue for people who can’t use the region’s regular transit system or its specialized HandyDart buses for all rides.
“But even some of the folks employed in the program didn’t understand all the ways it was used.”
I will add that we know very little about how users use taxis and other for-hire services. Taxis are a great opportunity to improve access and mobility for many who now rely on paratransit services, many of which are poor quality (due to scheduling problems) and most of which are unnecessarily expensive.

CNN reports on the Parisian taxi market and the potential to expand the fleet to create jobs:
Back in 1937, Paris capped the number of taxi permits at 14,000. Now, 75 years later, a bigger and vastly richer Paris receives some 27 million tourist visits per year -- and the number of cabs has edged up less than 14%, to 15,900. Result: In wind and rain and baking sun, Parisians must stand in long lines at taxi stands for cabs that never come.

In 2007, the new government of Nicolas Sarkozy proposed to supplement the existing fleet. It would license 6,500 new cars in Paris, 23,500 in the rest of France. The proposal triggered a strike that shut down the city for a day -- and frightened Sarkozy into surrender.
Five years later, it's as difficult to find a cab in Paris as ever. (Paris has about 2,000 more cab licenses than New York, which has a much bigger population, but New York has a vast fleet of cars for hire to supplement medallion cabs -- and except for the luxury market, car services are illegal in Paris.)
On the list of world problems, the difficulties of Paris taxi riders may seem to rank low.
Think again.
Almost 3 million French people are now out of work, the severest unemployment in 12 years. Millions more have quit the workforce altogether, subsisting on disability pensions or other social benefits.
Prolonged mass unemployment in Europe has triggered a global debate about the euro currency, and rightly so. Yet it's also true that every day, people in Europe are denied work by dumb laws that prevent willing customers from hiring them.
Adding 30,000 new taxi licenses in France would mean more than 90,000 daily taxi shifts: In other words, upwards of 90,000 new jobs.


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