nyc

Bandwagon airport taxishare featured on CNN and NBC


In a recent profile of taxi alternatives, CNN technology correspondent Samuel Burke caught up with CEO David Mahfouda and a few Bandwagon riders at LaGuardia Airport, where Bandwagon’s app and rideshare technicians match together passengers on the taxi line who are going the same way. Bandwagon riders save up to 40%, and are given priority access to NYC taxi cabs, speeding up the line for everybody.

And in a segment last month for our hometown NBC affiliate, reporter Lynda Baquero spoke to David and profiled Bandwagon’s LaGuardia Airport service.

Why the Prince of Denmark Dropped By

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For the past two weeks, the wonderful team at the Urban Future Lab has been busy, helping to transform the big room into an elegant showcase for clean technologies, just in time for Climate Week. And on Monday, the Crown Prince of Denmark dropped by to cut the ribbon.

He didn’t just drop by—he hung out too, checking in on the Lab’s Danish startups, chatting with hot shots in the city’s cleantech and urban fields, and touring the office (and our awesome view of Brooklyn and Manhattan) with Frank Jensen, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen.

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Bjarke Ingles shows Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, Count of Monpezat, RE, SKmd, a proposal for a more resilient Manhattan waterfront 

The Prince and the Mayor also got a taste of the BIG U, a proposed redevelopment for the southern tip and sides of Manhattan intended to protect the island from rising tides. “You know the High Line?” architect Bjarke Ingles asked the Prince. Uh huh, his highness replied. “This is the ‘Dry Line.’” Everyone snickered. 

The Prince’s visit to the showcase, on the eve of the UN’s climate meeting here in New York, wasn’t totally out of the blue: Denmark and its capital city have become global leaders in sustainable, resilient solutions for energy and for cities. The showcase, called House of Green, and organized by the Danish Cleantech Hub, is meant to underscore the country’s contributions and bring it to market in New York and around the country.

“As mayors, we must create livability for our citizens,” Jensen said during the ribbon cutting for House of Green. He cited the C40 network of cities, hailed the 400,000-strong People’s Climate March on Sunday, and noted that Copenhagen is on track to become a carbon neutral city.

The same day, our own mayor Bill De Blasio announced a comprehensive plan to reduce New York's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels. That would make our hometown the largest city in the world to make that kind of commitment.

Getting to more sustainable, resilient cities isn’t always easy. But the Prince’s visit to the Urban Future Lab was a reminder that that effort is much easier when the private and public sectors can find ways to collaborate and act together. 

As Shakespeare’s Danish prince put it: “The readiness is all.”

Tapping Into the Power of Local Drivers

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For rides booked in advance, Bandwagon relies upon one of the largest and modern fleets of private car service vehicles in New York City. And growing. Today, we’re pleased to welcome 300 drivers into our flock, through a new partnership with one of Brooklyn’s leading car service companies, Eastern Car Service that more than doubles our network of shareable, comfortable, energy-efficient vehicles

We’re dedicated to improving service while working with existing TLC-licensed cars and drivers in New York, with the aim of increasing transportation access for New Yorkers while reducing congestion and waste. 

In addition to expanding riders’ access to cars in New York City, Bandwagon’s ridesharing model reduces prices when demand is high by connecting fellow travelers to share cabs and split the cost. (On Thursday and Friday, an individual seat in a Bandwagon to an NYC airport costs as low as $12.)

And with partners like Eastern, we are also helping businesses consolidate their trips, and addressing the problem of “curb crunch” situations at the airport, conferences and events. Our ride dispatch system in NYC now taps into a fleet of over 500 vehicles (including dozens of hybrids) managed by our local base station partners. 

If you’re a car service interested in partnering with us, reach Ugur Inanc at ugur.inanc@bandwagon.io.

Image: Jason Lawrence

To Make Sharing Easier: Introducing Hubs and HOP Lanes

To make sharing a ride even easier, we’re adding some new points of interest to the map in your Bandwagon application—places where other passengers are likely to be traveling to and from.

We call them Hubs and HOP Lanes.

Hubs: Are designated hot spots where there are a high volume of people gathered and potentially looking for rides. A likely place to find a match.

HOP Lanes: HOP means High Occupancy Passenger—or just ‘hop.’ These are zones we establish for passengers who are already waiting in places with long, congested taxi lines.

Passengers in HOP Lanes can use Bandwagon to identify other people who are heading their way and get priority access to departing vehicles. Much like in a HOV lane on the highway, matched passengers get to go ahead and “HOP” the line.

And if you’d like to create a Hub or install a HOP Lane at your event or place of business, see bandwagon.io/events or email Mark, our director of Business Development, at mark.harrison@bandwagon.io.

Check it out now—and start sharing (more).

—Nadia

Hailing a taxi is being disrupted by technology and sharing. To help you (and us!) navigate the various options for a ride—and differentiate ridesharing from ride selling —Nyron and Florencia made a handy map of the various Transportation Network Companies and what they offer. 
  Read more about    where we fit into that picture and our thoughts about taxis and the sharing economy  .

Hailing a taxi is being disrupted by technology and sharing. To help you (and us!) navigate the various options for a ride—and differentiate ridesharing from rideselling—Nyron and Florencia made a handy map of the various Transportation Network Companies and what they offer.

Read more about where we fit into that picture and our thoughts about taxis and the sharing economy.

The value of connecting with people who are going the same way

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A few months ago, a group of researchers at MIT’s SENSEable City lab analyzed a year’s worth of NYC taxi rides—170 million trips—and found something fascinating: by tracing the routes of thousands of cabs, they surmised that nearly 80 percent of those trips could have been shared. That is assuming that passengers were willing to share (and, similarly, that there was a good way to connect them), and willing to travel no more than three minutes out of their way.

Just think about it, they said: if even a small fraction of those potential shared rides were shared, we could make a significant impact on the city’s congestion and pollution, which are dead weights on any city’s prosperity.

A visualization like this elaborates one of the promises of analyzing “big data” sets. If we can see the world’s invisible lines, we might also begin to shift our thinking about how we exist in the world and how we move around it.

Unlike regular vehicles, taxis are already designed as shared spaces. But, the research implied, they could be shared even better. “How might entertaining these questions be the first step in building a more efficient and cheaper taxi service?” they asked.

We’re building an answer at Bandwagon, matching riders throughout the five boroughs who are going the same way at the same time. You can use the app to dispatch a licensed taxi and find a passenger match in NYC; elsewhere, you can use Bandwagon in addition to existing taxi services, sharing a ride with another rider going your direction.

Every ride is a potential Bandwagon, open to other members nearby. Your ride is proportional to the cost of your seat, not the entire car. Your environmental footprint is closer to your size, too.

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This doesn’t just contribute to the well-being of existing taxi users and to the city as a whole. A shared taxi system might accommodate people who might be underserved by public transit, filling in transportation gaps without adding cars to the road while cutting the costs of vehicle transportation. 

Throughout the summer in New York, Bandwagon is offering special offers to new and existing users, especially at times and places where we think matches are likely. Sign up with the code MATCH to get $10 credit for use all summer long. And look for guaranteed discounts to all NYC airports on Thursdays and Fridays, and from NYC airports on Sundays. 

We’re also helping match riders in places where they tend to congregate—airports, transportation hubs, events, and companies—to cut long taxi lines and make shared transportation seamless and efficient. You can see more about that aspect of Bandwagon at bandwagon.io/events.

In future releases, we will be better demonstrating the potential for rideshares with people who are near you. For now, to get a sense of the shares waiting to be made, play around with HubCab here: hubcab.org. You can chart your regular transit routes, see how many others might be going your way, and calculate the savings in fares and carbon dioxide that come with real ridesharing.

Independence Day Deals in NYC!

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Hey New York Bandwagoners!

The 4th of July is coming up, which means it’s time to get out of town. When you do, make sure to grab our holiday deals, deals, deals on per-seat rides to the airport:

  • $15 to LaGuardia Airport

  • $30 to JFK and Newark Airports

  • Also, new users can take an extra $10 off using the code INDEPENDENCE

Get the app now for iPhone and Android, and celebrate your independence from wasteful transportation by sharing your ride!  

Happy Trails!

The Bandwagon Team

P.S.

Connect with us — and share your rides — on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.

What ridesharing really is

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Taxi hailing apps have become controversial. Like hand-wringing, subpoena-serving, rock-slinging, 10,000-car-protest controversial. “Ride-sharing” companies have been widely attacked and praised, accused of bypassing laws as they turn non-professionals into taxi drivers who can be dispatched with a few clicks. The controversy has raised critical questions for “the sharing economy” about labor, liability, and trust.

But strangely, somewhere along the way, the meaning of ridesharing itself got lost.  

Words are misused all the time, and language evolves of course. Misunderstanding ridesharing (and sharing in general) is unfortunate considering how valuable we think sharing can be to the economy—and what stands to be lost if journalists, Silicon Valley, politicians and others get it wrong.

“Ridesharing” isn’t only being misused by the media, from the New York Times to TechCrunch, from the Associated Press to the New Yorker. It’s also being misused by lawmakers as they craft new laws that are shaping the future of urban transportation.

All this disruption isn’t really about sharing. The controversy revolves around new ways of dispatching all kinds of taxis. On one hand, it’s about the old guard of the taxi industry girding itself from disruption; on the other, it’s about how the disruptors are in some cases doing their disrupting by side-stepping laws.

At Bandwagon, we think ridesharing means something different, and it’s a definition that’s actually quite common within the transportation arena: ridesharing is sharing your ride with another passenger who is going your way.

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Ridesharing, according to last year’s federal transportation bill, means offering the use of seats in your own car to other passengers along your route on a cost-reimbursement basis only. Like most things we share, ridesharing brings benefits to riders (saved time and money) and to our communities (reduced pollution and congestion). 

Ridesharing is not the same as dispatching and paying a driver to pick you up and take you somewhere, be it by raising your hand, calling a dispatcher, or using one of dozens of apps. This is hailing a taxi.

In general, taxis are a shared resource and part of a smart urban transport network. This includes luxury cars dispatched by app and peer-to-peer taxis driven by amateur drivers in their own cars. Taxis fill in gaps in public transportation and bolster it too, as David King, a Columbia University professor has observed in his research on what he calls “asymmetrical mode-share.” All in all, taxis enable us city-dwellers to give up car ownership for a transportation network that’s more affordable, efficient and better for our cities.

Still, taxis dispatched by apps are more likely to be called “rideshares” rather than “taxis,” even though they operate a lot like taxis, and they aren’t doing any more or less sharing than any other taxi does. We don’t call renting an apartment “building-sharing,” so why do we call hailing a taxi ridesharing? 

How did the term “ridesharing” come to describe an app-dispatched taxi cab? It might have been because of California law: unlike taxis, drivers who are “ridesharing” by giving people lifts to places they were already going were historically not subject to taxi rules.

By branding the new services as “ridesharing”—or at least accepting the term and using it to lobby regulators—these companies found a new way into a market from which they would otherwise be prohibited if they weren’t using that umbrella term. Now, California has a new phrase, “transportation network companies,” or TNCs, a term that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Meanwhile, the “ridesharing” moniker has stuck.

Real ridesharing is different than that. It’s a way to better use the vehicles that we have now rather than adding new cars to already crowded roads. It’s a way of getting people where they need to go cheaply and quickly, when public transit isn’t an option or when cabs are in short supply. Ridesharing is a way of improving access to the market by making taxi cabs cheaper to take, especially at high demand times, not more expensive.

At Bandwagon we’re working on real, real-time ridesharing every day. We enable passengers to book rides and get matched with other passengers in licensed taxis, car services and private vehicles. Passengers sharing taxis benefit from increased capacity and accessibility, while drivers increase earning capacity and cities reduce congestion. And instead of raising prices when demand is high, real ridesharing enables Bandwagon to lower prices.

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Real-time route matchmaking—that’s the stuff of ridesharing. Illustration by Brendan Dalton.

New York is an especially good city for ridesharing: as a study last year found, nearly 80 percent of the city’s taxi trips could have been shared, assuming that passengers were willing to travel no more than three minutes out of their way, and were willing to share—and, relatedly, that there was a good way to connect them.

In the U.S., it’s estimated that about 76 percent of drivers go to work alone, which means that most days, most of us who drive travel with at least three perfectly good empty seats next to us. “If more of us would simply pile into cars together — on our way to work, or school, or wherever — we could reduce congestion, emissions, even the need for parking,” Emily Badger wrote in April in the Washington Post. “And what’s not to like about that?”

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Taxi rides between 15th Street and Midtown in New York City demonstrate the potential for shared rides. (Via Hubcab / MIT SENSEable City Lab)

One thing we can all agree on: in general, taxis are an important part of a city’s transportation system. They improve the way we use private vehicles. If there are going to be cars in cities, taxis are a good compromise. Their utilization rates are drastically higher than private cars, in some cases 1900 percent higher. Think about the amount of time your typical urban car is used versus the amount of time it’s parked curbside, taking up valuable space (in between street cleanings, let’s be honest), and then think about how taxis are used. All the new taxi apps—us included—are hopefully helping make it easier to “use” taxis and hopefully making taxis better too. 

Taxi regulations might serve an incumbent industry, but they also exist to keep the taxi “system” working: they prevent a glut of taxis on the road, ensure that the people driving those taxis are licensed and insured, and help cities maintain a thriving fleet of trained drivers who can make a reasonable wage. Laws helped turn the taxi business from a shady industry—what the Times in 1923 called a “yellow peril”—into a powerful, reputable part of the city’s public transit infrastructure.

Given how many taxis on the road are currently underutilized—what taxi drivers call “dead head"—and given how centralized some of the control over the industry can be, taxi innovation is going to be a crucial part of our future cities. 

Part of that innovation includes finding ways to make better use of some of the empty seats in those taxis. Real ridesharing is awesome for cities. It can reduce congestion, expand public space, increase our ability to live dense and rich lives without totally screwing the one planet we have, and without unleveling the playing field.

We’re being sticklers about terminology because we see the benefits that technology and sharing in particular can bring to our cities. We know that connecting riders to share rides has the power to undo much of the damage that excess vehicle trips have done to our public space and social fabric. As cities and companies continue to fight or choose to work together in upgrading our existing transportation systems—and we are rooting for the latter—we don’t want a buzzword to ruin what we think is a positive kind of disruption to our cities’ transportation.

Alex Pasternack and David Mahfouda are co-founders of Bandwagon.

This post was edited for clarity on June 26.

What happened in Vegas

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Last week, Bandwagon was at International CES in Las Vegas with a mission: to relieve the stress of the taxi lines on attendees of the world’s biggest consumer technology conference and to relieve the stress on the city’s roads too. There was also a nice bonus: a panel of judges assembled by Verizon chose us from among over a thousand companies to receive one of their inaugural Powerful Answers Awards in sustainability. We’re in great company.

We’ll use the award of $700,000 to continue to build our network of riders and drivers, and to bring the future of urban ridesharing to more places beyond our bases of operations in New York, at LaGuardia Airport, and in Montreal. 

If you know somewhere in particular that could use some Bandwagon in its transportation life, drop us a line at hi at bandwagon dot io.

Cheers,

Alex, David, and your friends at Bandwagon

This Is What New York's Next Taxi Will Look Like

What will the next New York City taxi look like? NYC’s Taxi of Tomorrow finalists were announced last week – designs from Nissan, Ford and Karsan (in order above) – and to find a winner, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has opened voting up to everyone. One voter will win a year of cab rides.

The three finalists offer increased interior space, ease of entering and exiting, attractive exterior, interior electrical outlets, sunroofs, and interior lighting.

But of course, hardware means nothing without good software. When we talk about tomorrow, it’s important to remember that while vehicles themselves are an important part of delivering reliable service to New Yorkers, service and systems design – like what we’re working on at Weeels – will have a huge role to play in how we use vehicles in the city. That means improving the way we hail, share, and pay for our rides.

Go vote – and keep in mind a car that will be easiest to share (that Karsan jumpseat is pretty awesome)!

NYC Taxi Stand FAIL is Proof We Need Better Ways to Share Cabs

In its post mortem on a few of New York City’s cab stands, which were closed this week, the NY Post wrote, "New Yorkers are willing to share apartments and subway seats — but apparently not cabs.“

But that’s simply not true.

First of all, as the article notes, two ride stands are "still going strong”:

One at the Port Authority bus terminal handles about 20 share rides a day, and the share livery stand at the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island handles 275 rides per day. Both of those will remain.

And there’s a lot more sharing to come. We know there are situations in which New Yorkers are willing to share cabs. But did the TLC really design its group ride program to fully take advantage of these situations? Is a sign, like that little one above, enough?

Ask any New Yorker: Would you share a cab in a rain storm? Or on a frigid day when there isn’t a cab in sight? What if it meant cutting the cost of a cab ride in half – and cutting down on wasteful carbon emissions?

Sharing would be a very straightforward way to increase the capacity of the Yellow Taxi fleet at times when it is overburdened, which means more taxis for everybody.

What about getting back to or from Newark, JFK, or the Meadowlands? Ask any New Yorker: would you share a cab back from a Giants game, if it meant saving $40. What if you could ride home to your apartment with a Facebook friend you hadn’t talked to in months?

The problem with the TLC’s group ride stand has nothing to do with the demand for these kinds of transit products. They (we all really) need to work harder at designing sharing solutions where people really need them, and then giving New Yorkers the tools to actually arrange these shares.

For example: if the problem at the group ride stands really is a chicken and egg issue, why not provide passengers with some digital tools enabling them to find out whether or not they can generate shared rides, before trekking over to a shared location? 


Big Apps 2.0: NYC's Urban Data Challenge

NYC BigApps is back – with more data than you can shake an iPhone at. From Urban Omnibus:

The City of New York is hosting its second competition for web and mobile applications, NYC BigApps 2.0, to “increase government transparency and provide greater public access to city data.” Developers are invited to mine 350 data sets from NYC DataMine as the basis for apps that deliver information about various aspects of the city, ranging from education to transport, in a clear and creative manner. The organizers hope that the competition will help to provide “talented entrepreneurs with the tools to create new products. “We encourage the development of applications that can then be commercialized, spurring job growth and economic development in New York City,” says Deputy Mayor Steele in the competition press release. The submission period lasts through January 12 and winners will be announced in March. Get inspired to participate by browsing through the app gallery of last year’s winners — or by the $20,000 in cash prizes to be awarded this time around.

NYC Transportation Department To Share Cars

Everyone is sharing, not just the little guys. Under a new initiative, 300 employees of New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) will share 25 vehicles from Zipcar, instead of driving NYC fleet vehicles.

“Earlier this year, we announced a large-scale effort to make City government smaller, smarter, and more sustainable – both environmentally and fiscally,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “An important component of that effort is looking at City-owned cars. A car share program could help reduce the number of cars we use, cut our costs, free up parking on our streets and reduce the congestion on our streets and the pollution in our air. It’s another example of how we are constantly working on new ways to deliver better services at a lower cost to the taxpayer and to the environment.”

Most of the vehicles will be hybrids (23 hybrid vehicles and 2 mid-sized vans), which will save fuel and reduce pollution. And when not being used, the cars can be used by others, rather than sitting idle all night or weekend. The pilot program could “save more than $500,000 over four years in reduced costs for vehicle acquisitions, fuel and maintenance." 

Of course the innovative DOT, which has made massive pedestrian improvements and added crazy amounts of bike lanes, would be the first to try this. How long will it be before other government agencies follow?

via Treehugger. Photo: Mark E. Seitelman

New York's Transportation Future: "Moving People Rather Than Moving Automobiles"

“Moving people rather than moving automobiles” is part of New York’s mission to improve its transportation, says Alison Bishins, US project coordinator for Embarq, in this fantastic video by the transportation NGO. To that end, the city is ramping up “bicycle infrastructure across the city, introducing bus rapid transit to the Bronx, and pedestrianizing Times Square.”

But that idea lies at the heart of social transit, and of taxi-sharing, too. We already have so many cars, and for the places, times and people that bicycles and public transit can’t help, they’re going to remain useful. If we can use our street spaces more intelligently, we can also use our cars more intelligently too. 

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