Save Money: Use This App to Tell You Whether Uber or Taxi is Cheaper

March 30, 2015

3:00 pm

When it comes to getting driven around New York City, people have a slew of options open to them – from the hundreds of taxis that pass them to on-demand services like Uber, Lyft, and Gett. Because of all these choices, the matter often comes down to the question of which will take us wherever we need to go for the cheapest amount. OpenStreetCab is a new app that will actually help you determine when it’s cheaper for you to use a taxi over an Uber, and vice versa.

The app was created by a joint effort between the Computer Lab at Cambridge University and the Complexity and Networks group at the University of Namour in Belgium. Available for free on both Android and iOS devices, OpenStreetCab works exclusively for those in New York City. To use the app, users simply input their current location and desired destination (much like every on-demand transport app), and it will tell you whether it’s cheaper for you to use a taxi or an UberX for that particular ride.


After putting in your current location and desired destination, the app very straightforwardly tells you whether it’s cheaper to take a cab or an Uber.

While choices bring us additional convenience, the availability of different options can also cause a certain level of anxiety. This kind of anxiety presents itself best when we’re trying to decide on the best method of city transportation. In a city like New York, where choice abounds, our decision on whether to take one form of transportation versus another often comes down to price. OpenStreetCab is aimed at helping consumers make smarter decisions through greater transparency using Big Data.

The researchers involved in the project looked at publicly available data on New York City taxi rates from 2013 and Uber data from 2014. While the data on taxis prices are certainly older, they should still serve as a good indicator of 2014 rates considering that when the city last changed the rates in 2012, the rates had held constant for eight years prior. The data set used covers hundreds of millions of trips, made up of every pick-up and drop-off location, as well as fares paid on each of those trips. According to the data, in general, UberX (the company’s least expensive form of transport) costs more for trips generally falling below $35, but costs less than taxis for trips above that rate. The data doesn’t take into account Uber’s surge pricing, however, so obviously using OpenStreetCab during those times would be pointless since taking a cab would obviously cheaper (if you can get one).

If you’re in NYC, go ahead and download OpenStreetCab for iOS or Android.

(H/T The Huffington Post)

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things.

Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in ‘Doctor Who’, Murakami, ‘The Mindy Project’, and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a “writer”. Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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