Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory used data from 3 million taxi rides in NYC to construct an algorithm that they say will send cars to multiple pick-ups as the ride requests come in, picking up and dropping off as many people as possible along the most efficient routes. The study claims that 98 percent of the demand for taxis would be satisfied by just 3,000 four-passenger cars, with an average wait time of 2.7 minutes. As of 2014, there were nearly 13,500 yellow cabs in the city. The study, CNET points out, was not funded by Uber or Lyft.
This could, conceivably, mean fewer cars on the road and therefore less traffic and pollution. But it’s also dependent on riders being willing to wait longer for a car and then share the ride with a stranger—two things that many people take cabs to avoid.