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Data Mining Reveals When a Yellow Taxi Is Cheaper Than ­ber

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Comparing the prices of trips via Yellow Cabs vs. Uber.

A comparison of pricing for trips via New York City Yellow Cabs vs. Uber found Uber more expensive for trips under $35.

Credit: Technology Review

To determine if on-demand cab service Uber is less expensive than conventional taxis, University of Cambridge researcher Cecilia Mascolo compared Uber's prices with those of New York City's Yellow Taxis.

The team made a 2014 Freedom of Information Act request for the data associated with New York City Yellow Taxi journeys during 2013, which covered hundreds of millions of trips and comprised 50 GB of data, and included the location of every pick-up and drop-off, as well as the fare paid for each journey. Mascolo's team took the coordinates of each journey made in a Yellow Taxi in 2013 and then asked Uber how much it would charge for the same journey using the least-expensive version of the service. Uber provided an estimated minimum and maximum possible fare, which the researchers used to take an average and compare it against the Yellow Taxi fare.

"Uber appears more expensive for prices below $35 and begins to become cheaper only after that threshold," the researchers said. "Our observations show that it might be financially advantageous on average for travelers to choose either Yellow Cabs or Uber depending on the duration of their journey."

The researchers have developed an app called OpenStreetCab to enable consumers to compare Uber prices with the equivalent journey in a Yellow Taxi.

From Technology Review
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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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