Sustainable Transport Revolution Begins with Taxi Sharing

Published on Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Urban Transport becomes more sustainable if people shared taxis, and if this were to happen in a city like New York, where taxis are the preferred choice of transport, there could be positive consequences for smaller cities and towns as well, in particular if a larger number of vehicles were electric.
This theory was outlined in a study carried out by the SENSEable City Lab at MIT in Boston, which had the support of the Enel Foundation– among others – and was published in September in the prestigious scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). 

Using a mathematical model based on network science we analysed the data from 170 million taxi trips in New York in 2011, in order to quantify the potential impact of vehicle sharing,' explained Enel Foundation researcher Christian Zulberti. 'Nearly all of the cab rides (around 95 percent) could have been shared, which would have led to a 40 percent reduction in journeys. This would have brought great benefits, cutting traffic and exhaust emissions and lowering service costs by 30 percent.

'The SENSEable City Lab is a research laboratory founded in 2004 by Italian architect Carlo Ratti, from MIT's urban planning department in collaboration with Nicholas Negroponte's Media Lab. Its aim is to study ways of making cities more people-friendly through the use of IT alongside urban planning.'

The results of the New York study published in PNAS are an integral part of the New Urban Mobility research project developed by Enel Foundation in partnership with the MIT SENSEable City Lab. The next steps will be to extend use of the tool available on www.hubcab.orgto other cities and 'analyse new urban mobility systems' in order to understand potential short- and medium-term developments in this sector. This means not only making taxi and car sharing more widespread, but also replacing petrol-run vehicles with electric vehicles.