New York City may not be the friendliest city, but with the apps Via and Curb now letting users ride-share in the city's yellow taxis, New Yorkers can expect to snuggle up close in the back of a cab next to complete strangers. That's right, get ready to feel the love.
In the past several years, ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have grown increasingly popular. While users have praised their low prices and ride-sharing features like Uber Pool and Lyft Line, NYC taxis have taken a hit as a result. In 2016, the Taxi and Limousine Commission reported that yellow taxis in NYC went from 400,000 daily trips in 2015 to 360,000 trips per day in 2016. Uber, however, has only seen an upward climb, averaging 376,000 daily trips as of February. As taxis continue to lose business to apps like Uber, the taxi industry is seeking ways to combat this. The company Verifone has been fighting back, trying to make the yellow taxi desirable again.
For years, Verifone has been equipping taxis with technology such as credit card terminals and passenger tablets, but in 2013 they entered the app game by purchasing Curb, an app that allows users to hail and electronically pay for taxi rides. Now, they're working to partner with Via — an app focused on multi-passenger, split-fare rides — to create a service like Uber Pool and Lyft Line for NYC's yellow taxis.
Via's ride-sharing technology works to identify the simplest and cheapest routes, providing customers and drivers with the most convenient trips possible. By applying it to yellow taxis, users on Via or Curb will now pay a fare discounted up to 40% of the full cost. In adopting this feature that has been so popular with its competitors Uber and Lyft, Via and Curb are hoping to experience similar success and reignite the popularity of the yellow taxi.
Like Uber Pool and Lyft Line, Via and Curb will allow riders to book up to two seats. They will be directed to travel to a virtual pick-up stop on a street corner that's easily accessible for drivers. Currently, the service is only offered between 32nd and 110th Streets in Manhattan, but it is expected to expand to cover a greater area and extend to other boroughs.
Only time will tell if this ride-sharing option will help taxi drivers increase profits in an area dominated by ride-sharing apps. Verifone's partnership with StreetSmart, an app that uses real-time traffic and weather information as well as data on historically popular pick-up locations to notify taxi drivers of the best route to take to find passengers, indicates that they are committed to bettering the taxi industry. With these new apps on the market and Verifone continuing to update the technology inside of cabs, yellow taxis may soon see a comeback.