From Taxi Driver to Sex and the City, few props place you as quickly as a New York City cab. Yet, to New York residents the rising cost of cab fare is making a once-ubiquitous form of transport a luxury.
As Reuters reported Thursday, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission just approved a 17 percent pump in prices. The base fare will remain the same when the new rates take effect in September, but the rate to travel a half-mile will rise from .40 cents to .50 cents. A ride from Manhattan to JFK airport will now cost $52.
For cab drivers, the fare increase provides a source of relief. Gas costs nearly a dollar more than it did in 2005, the last time fares rose. For consumers, however, rising costs help justify alternative means of transportation. Where are consumers going?
Here's a quick rundown of three alternatives to riding around in a Yellow Cab:
Bicycling -- CitiBike, New York City's $42 million bike share program, kicks off this month. With 7,000 bicycles in 400 locations, finding an inexpensive trip across town won't cost more than dinner. What's more, it's good for your health. As Governing magazine pointed out in June, there's a strong correlation between the number of people who walk or bike to work and the overall health of a city. For those interested in giving it a try, the first 24-hours will only run you $9.95. An annual membership costs just $95.
Public Transit -- Once a means of transport for hardened New Yorkers, the subway (and the public bus) now provide a safe, efficient means to get across town. As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in his 1996 New Yorker essay "The Tipping Point," crime fell dramatically in New York City subways during the 80s and early 90s. "There is probably no other place in the country where violent crime has declined so far, so fast," Gladwell wrote. Train safety has opened up entire swaths of the city to newcomers. "A place like Williamsburg," urbanist Alan Ehrenhalt told SmartPlanet in April, "is much more desirable because it's much safer to go there on the train, or people feel that it is, which is an enormous change."
Uber -- While calling for a private car on the Uber costs more than hailing a cab, fare hikes by the Taxi and Limousine Commission make Uber trips feel more affordable. As the New York Times reported July 1, scheduling a ride in a hybrid vehicle, for example, costs just 10-25 percent more than current cab fares. A hybrid ride to JFK airport currently costs $65. For some riders, the added expense is worth it.
How do you get around your neighborhood without the sting of cab fare? Weigh in below.
Photo: Beraldo Leal/Flickr, Seth Werkheiser/Flickr, Uber
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