Google Maps Real-Time Taxi Data

Apps such as SideCar have set out to make it easy for people to hitchhike. People who have a car and are willing to give a ride broadcast it through the app. People who need a ride at that moment tell the app they need a ride, and the service tries to pair them up with active ride-givers in the area.

So why can’t we do that with taxis easily too? Taxis seem so inefficient. They roam around endlessly, taking people in all kinds of directions. Some cities allow you to hail down cabbies in the street. Elsewhere, you have to a call, text or use an app to reach some sort of dispatch service.

Even then, a cab might have the driver and one passenger in it. Yet, that one person headed for the airport is paying 100 percent of the fare. Imagine if the taxi driver — with the passenger’s permission — could broadcast his ability to pick up another passenger or two who are also headed for the airport along his route to the airport. An app could work that magic.

Even better for hail-down cities, those funky, often-lighted signs on the top of taxis could change colors from say green to yellow depending on if the taxi can pick up more passengers. Digitized signs could say where the taxi is headed to further simplify the process.

In that sense, taxis become more like shuttles but the environment is bound to benefit. Don’t forgot about the pocketbooks of the passengers either. Even if a taxi driver offered a slight discount, both passengers benefit from sharing the fare.

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