NYC’s yellow cabs are adding a carpooling option

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Carpooling is coming to New York City’s yellow cabs.

A pair of local ride-sharing apps is teaming up to give customers a 40-percent discount metered taxi fares for rides they’re willing to share with another passenger.

To make it happen, Curb — a ride-hailing app operated by Verifone that’s used by roughly 65 percent of the city’s 13,500 green and yellow taxis — is teaming up with local ride-sharing app Via, whose algorithms are adept at mapping out efficient routes for picking up and dropping off multiple passengers.

The new service, which launches Tuesday, kicks in when a rider using either the Curb or Via app expresses a willingness to share a green or yellow taxi in exchange for a discount of 95 cents off the standard $1.95 booking fee.

Then, as the taxi takes off, Via’s matching-and-routing algorithm will seek out convenient real-time pick-ups along the way.

“Just as we route the vehicle in the most efficient way, we’ll route an additional passenger,” says Daniel Ramot, Via’s co-founder and CEO. “For example, if a passenger’s on 45th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, we might say walk to the northeast corner of 6th Avenue, and we’ll pick you up there.”

Once sharing a taxi, the pick-up and original passenger each pay only 60 percent of the metered fare for their time together. If no additional passenger gets picked up, the original customer pays the fare in full but still benefits from the reduced booking fee.

For drivers, the Via-Curb partnership could deliver what Verifone marketing VP Jason Gross calls “an endless fare.”

“Drivers spend about 50 percent of their time looking for fares,” he explains. “This allows them to string those fares together in a very efficient way.”

Initially, the service will only be offered for routes between 32nd Street and 110th Street in Manhattan, but plans are afoot to expand it throughout Manhattan and into other boroughs.

The carpooling idea — which mimics similar services on tap from Uber and Lyft — is getting touted by the likes of Meera Joshi, chair of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.

“The TLC has always strongly championed group riding in taxis and for-hire cars,” Joshi said. “This is an area where we believe the private sector can excel in ways that have eluded our own best efforts, and we are pleased to see this new option available to the riding public.”

Via, whose routing algorithms were inspired partly by the Israel’s Sherut minivan service, has been rounding up New York customers for real-time ridesharing at flat rates between $5 and $8 a ride since 2013.

Together, Curb and Via say they aim to reduce fares for riders, increase meter revenue for drivers and ease congestion and pollution — at the expense of a little elbow room.

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