Beginning Tuesday, city taxis will offer passengers the option of splitting a ride with a stranger for a discounted fare of up to 40 percent. The new service is based on a partnership between Curb, an app used by most of the city's 13,500 green and yellow taxis, and Via, a group-ride-hailing app that launched in New York in 2013 and quickly became known for its $5 flat rate pricing. Similar to Uber POOL or Lyft Line, Via has its own proprietary algorithm that determines the quickest way to pick up or drop off multiple passengers.
"Cities benefit from reduced congestion and emissions, riders benefit from affordable and convenient transportation options, and drivers benefit from a system optimized to increase their earnings," Via CEO Daniel Ramot said in a statement. "We're excited to deploy our technology for the first time in New York City taxis, one of the largest and most important taxi fleets in the world."
But using Via's technology isn't so simple as just pressing a button and waiting for a car to arrive. "Just as we route the vehicle in the most efficient way, we'll route an additional passenger," Ramot told the Post. "For example, if a passenger's on 45th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, we might say walk to the northeast corner of 6th Avenue, and we'll pick you up there."
Notably, the new app-based service boasts support from the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, which has "always strongly championed group riding in taxis and for-hire cars," according to TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi. "This is an area where we believe the private sector can excel in ways that have eluded our own best efforts, and we are pleased to see this new option available to the riding public."
As of now, the service will only be available between between 32nd Street and 110th Street, though Ramot said he expects it will expand to the rest Manhattan and other boroughs soon. Taxi drivers will have the option to opt out of the service.