Saturday, May 12, 2007

Transit Ideas: Roving Cabs

The big difference between cabs in New York City and cabs everywhere else in the country is this: the Big Apple has roving cabs everywhere, whereas most other cities have dial-a-cab service and, if they're lucky, roving cabs in specific districts.

I got to thinking about this issue because I often wonder what it would take to reduce our rate of personal car ownership. Mass transit, for the most part, addresses the commuting transit needs of an urban population. But people still need trip-specific point-to-point travel services, especially for leisure & entertainment. Cabs are perfect for this kind of service; unfortunately, however, in areas where cabs can only be obtained by calling in advance (and then waiting 20+ minutes), it's not a very desirable option.

Contrast this with New York, where generally speaking you're always within a few blocks of a road swamped with cabs. It's a sea of yellow much of the time! In this situation, you really don't need a car at all. Between the subway, buses, and cabs, most of your transit needs are supplied without having to own your own automobile. Fantastic!

I'm not sure how to get such a system in place outside of New York. Even if some enlightened billionaire invested a huge amount of money to blanket a city with roving cabs, it would take years before the per-capita car-ownership rates would decline sufficiently to ensure a stable profit margin. Any ideas?

Monday: Transit Ideas
Tuesday: Scooters for Everyone!
Wednesday: Apartments Without Kitchens!
Thursday: Even More Ridiculous Transit Ideas
Friday: Urban Parks


Blogger Arthur Willoughby said...

Hi, Steve.

I really don't think the New York system would work here. New York is so sequestered from the rest of the world that owning a car is near-insanity.

Contrast that with the Twin Cities where, despite increasingly frustrating levels of traffic, a person can still get from Point A to Point B relatively quickly (even across town) and park for a reasonable price.

Plus, Minnesotans love their cars because they drive "up north" every weekend. Even if they work in the city during the week, they load up their SUVs and drive up to the cabin a couple times per month.

My fervent hope is to go car-less very soon.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Generalissimo said...

The Romance Meter and Cabs 2.0
(Two different tales).

The Romance Meter

Cabs are to New York as the crown jewels are to the Queen of England -- f*$%ing vital. And family jewels are to romance, well we all know about that. Anyhow, in big cities like London, D.C., Paris, Tokyo, Berlin and other major metropolises, cabs are a lifeline. While sidewalks and the subway are integral parts of the urban transportation network, a fellow needs a cab to connect to points that the aforementioned modalities don't connect to either: 1. quickly, 2. safely or 3. conveniently. Plus, he doesn't have to spend hard earned dough on car insurance, maintenance and parking. Nice, huh!

For example, boy meets girl at German Embassy party (both don't have cars as they live in D.C.). She's all about going home with him and vice versa. Well, what does Romeo do?

1. Metro (subway): STRIKE OUT!!! Why? Do you want a babe that's all hot and bothered to be unneccessarily delayed waiting for a train? Dummy unfurls this dead-in-water suggestion and princess is mortified. She sees that he's a bozo and instead hooks up with a frat guy from Georgetown.

2. Walk: STRIKE OUT!!! Why? Juliet has stilletto heels on and is wearing a cocktail dress. Looks great but not good for deportment. She totally scoofs at the proposal and is so turned off that the once standard bearer of female sexuality doesn't think about making love for three months. Curiously, the Haagen Daas double chocolate remains out of stock at the local grocery store during the same time period.

3. Cab: Perfect. No worries about driving, walking and trains... This means he can keep drinking and keep her drinking. Perfect! The kid makes contact... He's on first, rounding second, going to third(hopefully) and it looks like he might score...

Cabs 2.0

Mayor Bloomberg and city council forsee cabs 2.0!!! Folks, this means computers in all cabs that of Internet, GPS and accept credit or debit cards. Whoa Nelly, cab drivers have cried and grumble about a strike.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Bonnie Erickson said...

My broker had a great idea. The company would buy a car to be used by all agents in their turn. We could get to the office via public transit and do showings via company car. Obviously, this is in the vision stage only, but it has merit.

11:45 PM  

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