In New York, the stream of yellow (and green, depending on the borough) cabs can seem constant and inscrutable. But with an eye for encouraging cab-sharing (and the energy saving that would come with it), the MIT Senseable City Lab has created HubCab, an interactive visualization of taxis.
HubCab takes the form of a map of the five boroughs, with blue and yellow dots (blue for pickups and yellow for dropoffs) denoting taxi activity. It has an option to filter for a specific time of day, so you can see where cabs are needed for commuters before and after work, or for partiers at night. The most interesting thing, to me, was that the vast majority of pickups, in Manhattan, happen on the avenues (the north/south thoroughfares), while the majority of dropoffs happen on the streets (the east/west streets, which tend to be smaller).
This is all 2011 data. That year, around 13,500 cabs carried over 170 million individual fares. All that info is fun to look at, but in this case, it has a greater purpose: HubCab is pushing the idea of cab-sharing, and using this data to show just how much energy and time it could save. "Significant improvements of such a shared system are expected to lead to less congestion in road traffic, less running costs and split fares, and to a less polluted, cleaner environment," says MIT on its blog.
The map, given that it shows the times of pickups as well as their routes, suggests that cabs should actually make stops to pick up multiple people on the same trip. MIT says cab-sharing could reduce the total number of trips by 40%—a pretty astounding number. Head on over to HubCab to check out the map.