Weeels helps at LaGuardia Airport in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

The Weeels team took to LaGuardia Airport on Friday and Saturday to help facilitate taxi-sharing – relieving some of the stress on commuters, cab drivers and fuel supplies in the NYC area in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. As of Friday morning, with the number of yellow cabs in the city down by 25% and decreasing due to a lack of fuel, airport officials were concerned that passenger and taxi wait times at LaGuardia would be much longer than usual.

Excited for some work after a long week holed-up in our apartments, we biked, drove and cab-shared to LGA to put our software to the test. Arriving Friday afternoon, we put the Weeels Line Management System into use at a couple of LaGuardia terminals where passenger demand outstripped taxi supply. The emergency test was a great success: using iPads loaded with our software, we were each able to match about 20 rides per hour, or between 40 and 60 passengers per hour, especially during peak demand times. We returned with a larger team on Saturday to find much decreased demand and a steady taxi supply despite the troubling, persistent fuel shortage in the city.

After setting up a high-occupancy lane at each long taxi line, the Weeels team made a brief announcement letting passengers know about the system. For passengers with an interest in sharing a cab, the Weeels team entered their first names and destinations into the software. Whenever a match was found, those passengers were paired up and put into the next available taxi. In future versions of the system, passengers will be alerted of matches and other information via overhead displays. We got some great, enthusiastic feedback from passengers who thought taxi-sharing was a great idea and were eager to use the service. Several passengers voiced hope that the service would be regularly available.

The question of how to allocate limited resources - fuel, vehicles, power, emergency response - has been a big one this last week in the Northeast following Hurricane Sandy. It’s also been a big question for the past year, and the past decade. In crowded cities, with rising fuel costs, and especially in times of crisis, how can we make the most of our limited infrastructure? We believe that smarter, more affordable transportation through taxi-sharing and ride-sharing is part of the answer, and we’re happy that New York City agencies agree.