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Uber makes JFK airport helicopter taxis available to all users (reuters.com)
182 points by prostoalex 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 122 comments





New York Airways used to have a helicopter service from JFK to Manhattan, it was cheap and frequent.

Wikipedia: 'New York Airways flew Vertol 107 helicopters from the rooftop helipad to Pan Am's terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport from December 21, 1965, to February 18, 1968, when the service ceased due to inadequate passenger loads. For a short part of that time, they also offered service to Teterboro Airport.

Service to JFK resumed in early 1977 using Sikorsky S-61s. On May 16, 1977, about one minute after an S-61L landed and its 20 passengers disembarked, the right front landing gear collapsed, causing the aircraft to topple onto its side with the rotors still turning. One of the five 20-foot (6.1 m) blades broke off and flew into a crowd of passengers waiting to board. Three men were killed instantly and another died later in a hospital. The blade sailed over the side of the building and killed a female pedestrian on the corner of Madison Avenue and 43rd Street. Two other people were seriously injured. Helicopter service was quickly suspended, and never resumed'.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MetLife_Building#Helicopter_se...


There was another much more recent commuter helicopter service in NYC. It did not have any incidents but ended up going out of business during the 2008 recession. It only cost something like $150-$200 IIRC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Helicopter


Here is a short documentary about those helicopter rides from Bloomberg with some pictures and videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nbz5VFilxY

Wow thanks for this.

I admit, that's terrifying and somewhat mind blowing. The landing gear collapsed while it was 'parked' - ultimately killing a person a block away with the blades.


https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2013/08/when-airport-...

New York Airways also flew to Wall Street (ground level landing) from Laguardia for around 40 bucks in today's money in the 70's.


> it was cheap and frequent.

Do you know what the price was?


$5 according to the YouTube documentary posted in your sibling comment.

Wow, that is extremely cheap!

I haven’t had time to watch the documentary yet, but my first thought about a $5 price tag is that it can’t possibly be accounting for inflation.

$5 in 1977 is about $21.15 give or take a few cents according to most of the website i checked the numbers on.

So while it might be $5, that was definitely not as cheap as it might otherwise seem.

Regardless of the inflation adjustments, ~$20 is surprisingly inexpensive for a commuter helicopter ride, I wonder if the economies of scale really do bring it down or if they were still eating their losses trying to grow business at that price.


Thanks for doing the math. $20 is still so cheap as to warrent a "Wow, that is incredibly cheap" IMHO.

Taxi flat rate from Manhatten to JFK is over $50. How the price for a helicopter ride could be on the same order of magnitude as a taxi is beyond me.


The flat rate has only been in effect for several years. I would assume it would be a lot more expensive to take a taxi from midtown directly to JFK before the flat rate.

> So while it might be $5, that was definitely not as cheap as it might otherwise seem.

An uber to JFK from Manhatten is ~$100 - that's still dirt cheap!


According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Airways) it was 4,5$ in '55 (~43$ in 2019). The helicopter fit 15 passengers and the trip took 10 minutes. If you assume a ride every 30 minutes at ~half capacity for 8 hours, that's 16843=5504$ a day. If you can keep that up all day every day, that's a bit over 2M$ a year today. It's certainly not that much, but doable.

Helicopter service makes no sense to me. A very fast electric ferry from Downtown and one of the Piers near midtown... That makes a lot more sense to me.

> Helicopter service makes no sense to me.

A helicopter can go in a straight line and land on the apron, right next to a waiting aircraft. How long is a ferry going to take to get all the way around Brooklyn, through the bays and where is it going to dock when it gets there?! That'd take hours.


Not at all. A fast ferry from downtown NYC should take around 20 minutes to get to JFK. It would be easy for them to integrate a marine terminal there, just as they are going to do at LaGuardia airport. It’s a hell of a lot more practical than a helicopter service.

> A fast ferry from downtown NYC should take around 20 minutes to get to JFK.

20 minutes?! It's like 20 miles around Brooklyn. It'd need to be a 60 mph ferry! Does such a thing exist?


Such ferries do exist (hydrofoil or hovercraft) but sailing through a congested channel at 60 mph would be wildly dangerous. I can't imagine the Coast Guard or port authorities would ever allow it.

Yes this would be a challenge. It may not be able to operate at full speed for the entire duration of the trip, but significant portions it probably could.


This just shows the poor state of NYC's public transport. With decent public transport there should be approximately zero demand for this service.

It's about 1h20m from Penn Station to JFK taking first the LIRR to Jamaica and then changing to the AirTrain. Sometimes you'll get lucky and get an express train and you can do it in about 40 minutes. The distance is about 15 miles or 25 kms.

It's normally longer (and a lot more expensive) to take a taxi.

It would take about 1h30m to cycle to JFK from Penn Station, which is comparable to public transport (though obviously impractical for most people taking a flight).

With well designed public transport the trip should be no more than 30 mins. That's an average of 30 mph, easily achievable by light rail. There should be a direct train connection to JFK instead of the slow AirTrain. Why isn't there? Basically because NYC can't get it's act together when it comes to building public transport. The Wikipedia page has more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirTrain_JFK


Manhattan is huge, so context of where you are starting is very important. For me, I’m a 2 minute walk to the E train, where I can be already through security in the terminal in 45 minutes. What matters is not the speed but the consistency. I’ve never had it deviate from that number by any meaningful amount.

We do have well designed public transportation, but you can’t make every point on the island take equal time.

It’s similar with the Paddington Express in London. It’s one of the nicest airport train experiences, period. But then you’re in Paddington Station and you need to get to wherever you need to go in the city and that makes it take as long as the JFK trip for most people.

If you actually look on a map there’s basically no way anyone could have built a LIRR style train to JFK in modern times without the entire length being a tunnel. The AirTrain is fast and very good at what it does — get you to the subway or LIRR.


The relevant time is from whatever the transport hub is to the destination. The people who live a few stops from Heathrow on the Piccadilly line can get there pretty quickly but that is not a useful measure. I chose Penn Station because that's where the LIRR currently leaves from. The Wikipedia article talks about how a direct train line was planned but didn't eventuate.

I can't agree that NYC has well designed public transportation. Metro North, the other train line I have experience with, is also dreadfully slow. The subway is old, dirty, and has poor signage.


> The relevant time is from whatever the transport hub is to the destination

It seems like the Heathrow Express comparison is fair then; Paddington's a transport hub (surface trains and several tube lines pass through it), and it takes 15 mins to Heathrow.


What do you mean by security at the terminal? I haven't lived in NYC for a few years now but do they have airport style security now?

I meant that I can walk to the E train, take it to the AirTran, take the AirTrain to Terminal 8 and get through security (TSA Pre) in a consistent/stable time.

>Basically because NYC can't get it's act together when it comes to building public transport.

Because nobody wants to pay for it until its on fire. There's also political fighting between state vs. city for control of the MTA.


This is just rebranded service. I was curious on launch day and it quoted me $222. Going direct to Blade is $195.

It's rebranded Heliflite, not rebranded Blade. So there are still the same number of carriers as before, and yeah, you're paying an extra $27 to book it with the Uber app. This is not very exciting.

Edit: Uber is including the car on both ends, so that's an advantage. And their luggage allowance is 50 lbs vs. Blade's 25, so that's nice too.


There’s probably a reason for Blade’s 25 pound weight limit. Well move fast and all that.

It's the same helicopter.

Maybe a fuel issue. Perhaps Uber is paying the helicopter company extra to compensate for the increase fuel burned from its customer's heavier luggage. That's one way to set yourself apart in the market.

Uber probably just rand the numbers and figured out that everything over 28lb or something is a rare outlier so allowing 50lb makes for better marketing but costs little more than say 30lb. 50lb is decently heavy. The intersection of "people willing to pay $200 for a helicopter to save time" and "people willing to lug around 50lb" is probably reserved for a handful of specialized repair technicians (like the kind you fly out to somewhere) who carry specialty tools and expense the cost, a rounding error in any case.

I think you'll find many Japanese tourists in that intersection.

Hey there, head of product for Uber Elevate here...it's important to note that our price is e2e including ground transportation on both ends, in addition to the 8-min, twin engine helicopter ride! Feel free to DM for more details

There are no DMs on HN...

There's an e-mail address in the user info...

Also not exactly new. There has always been some company that will take you from NYC's heliports to its airports. Of course every one of these companies eventually went out of business, but some other group always stepped in to try to make it work.

Going out of business doesn't mean it didn't work.

It might have made the owner lots of cash and they just stopped.


Sure, they all decided the business was a bit too successful to keep going. Sounds plausible

Happens all the time. You put a half-assed attempt into finding a buyer and then go party in Ibiza in either scenario.

Its the people not making money that imagine their one single idea in life is going to strike it big and they'll get married to it.

The rest of us just make money, with the comfort that we now have enough money, or can make more with one of our monthly ideas, or can attract capital due to prior success or having made a profit for shareholders in the prior venture.


There are, usually, ready buyers for a well-performing business--which is another word for a machine that turns money into more money.

Furthermore, attaining some modest success does not tend to make business owners indifferent to the prospect of having a bit more success. Letting the business wither and die while one takes pills on Party Island is not the way it goes.


Its no different than any profitable side project anybody here has ever concocted.

You go and do something more fulfilling, sometimes more profitable.

Even if that means just buying a bunch of treasury bonds on your nest egg of 30 million and going off on Party Island.


I like your upbeat attitude, but:

"""U.S. Helicopter Corporation (the "Company") has put substantially all of its operations and business activities on hold as of September 25, 2009 due to the Company's inability to obtain the financing necessary to continue to operate its business."""

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1309140/000090901209...


I like the part where it clawed back the earnings of the founder and any expenses weren't usable as deductions on their taxes. Wait, thats not what I read at all.

Anyway, why was a helicopter company publicly traded last decade? Thats funny, too bad they needed to rollover debt during a period of time when financing had dried up for everyone in 2009.

Is a public company from 2009 the only data? I thought the whole premise of this subthread was that there were companies always filling the void.


There has been an endless parade of these guys but only the one was public, in recent history. Obviously I am not aware of the disposition of the others. Maybe they were all roaring successes.

Factor in an Uber to and fro (included from what I can tell) and you’re probably coming out ahead with Uber.

I'd be interested to see some data on the entire trip duration including the uber X rides on both ends. Does Uber copter only make sense if you aren't stuck in traffic on th way to the helipad?

Average time savings e2e is usually at least 30m during rush hour (we are servicing Manhattan below Houston for now to the downtown Heliport) but up to an hour of time saved for some

Uber on both ends is definitely included!

I've paid more than that for a regular uber to lga, just getting stuck in traffic the wrong time of day.

I tried it last Saturday but it just said “None Available”.

It’s only available on weekdays.

Where does it depart from on Manhattan?

This pier near the Staten Island Ferry terminal: https://goo.gl/maps/oBWRfAkwQrWTTjGH8

What's the CO2 footprint for using such a service vs taking a cab and sitting in traffic?

It's substantial. Helicopters produce roughly 43 times more CO2 per hour than cars. From a 2016 NYT article:

> The Airbus AS350 series of helicopters, one of the most popular among tour operators, produces approximately 950 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per hour; the average car produces 22 pounds per hour.

> There are often eight helicopters motoring on the downtown heliport at any time. For those living and working nearby, that’s like 340 cars idling outside your window. Conservatively estimated, the 56,000 annual tourist flights have a carbon footprint greater than 6,000 metric tons.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/opinion/sunday/a-plague-o...


Shouldn't you calculate it by passenger-time? The car seats 1-3 people, sits in traffic, etc. A passenger BUS probably does a lot more CO2 than a car too...

Seat utilization is a big factor here, but let's take the worst case for a car vs. the best case for a helicopter.

Assume that the helicopter can make 3 trips per hour (8 minutes flight time, plus 12 minutes turnover).

950 / 3 = 316 lbs of C02 per flight. It looks like the Bell 430 configuration they have has 6 passenger seats, so 52.7 lbs of C02 per passenger.

Even if the taxi has only one passenger and takes 1.5 hours to reach JFK in moderate traffic, that rider will only be generating 33 lbs of C02 (37% less C02 than a helicopter in a best-case scenario for the helicopter).

Buses do produce more CO2 than cars, but are generally 6-8 times more efficient on a passenger-mile basis.


I'm more confused how a helicopter that's 2500 lbs empty can somehow spit out over 900 lbs of emissions every hour for its four hour flight endurance. They've got to be doing some tricky calculations to get there. I'm guessing it looks more like consideration of infrastructure and production than it does passenger-time.

One pound of carbon becomes 3.7 pounds of CO2 "emissions" when it combines with atmospheric oxygen: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/contentIncludes/co2_inc.htm

One gallon of carbon petroleum fuel weighing 7 pounds becomes 22 pounds of carbon dioxide. Essentially in burning fuel you replace carbon plus two hydrogen atoms- atomic weight 14- with a carbon plus two oxygen atoms- atomic weight 44. That is an increase of 3.14x.

Well it is also burning oxygen from air which you don't carry on the helicopter.

Let me see how much high school chemistry I still remember...

    CO2 = C (12) * 1 + O (16) * 2
So 1 lb of C from fuel => 3.67 lb of CO2 out

Suppose AvGas is just Octane, C8H18

    C8H18 = C (12) * 8 + H (1) * 18
1 lb of octane => 0.84 lb of C => 3.09 lb of CO2

So yeah, you get 3 lb CO2 from 1 lb of octane.


It takes fuel (onboard) + oxygen (environment) to create the CO2. I assume that’s where the additional mass comes from.

Air breathing engine.

Why is time relevant here? I'd have thought it would be better to compare the CO2 emitted by one heli trip to the airport from central NYC to the CO2 emitted by one taxi trip to the airport from central NYC, in both cases divided by the number of passengers.

> With concerns mounting over congestion and vehicle emissions, Uber hopes its NYC Copter project will pave the way for Uber Air, a taxi service of electric “vertical take-off and landing” aircraft.

It looks like they ultimately intend to go electric. Still, electric or not, vertical takeoff vehicles consume a lot of energy. Lets hope they plan to use renewable electricity.


Wonder if this route would be perfect for an electric helicopter? It's a pretty short trip (8mins?), and it could charge while people load/unload? Not sure if the tech is mature just yet of course...

This is a rather imperfect comparison, but to try to answer whether the tech is mature enough yet, the Sikorsky 61N in its Pan Am configuration could ferry 25 passengers plus some luggage (though capable of 39 passengers), with a max range of up to 450NM, requiring about 2 megawatts give or take, fuel weighing up to 4000 lbs.

The Sikorsky Firefly is a one-passenger electric helicopter, one of not that many electric helicopters, with a max takeoff weight of about 2K lbs, a little more than one pilot's worth of weight between MTW and its empty weight (no passengers). Over half its weight, 1150 out of 2050 lbs, is comprised of its two batteries, burning up to 140kW for 15 minutes max (IE, not flying like Airwolf).

So the technology is there to make the electric flight about one way before a long recharge with one very wealthy passenger and no cargo provided the passenger is the pilot, presuming the batteries are replaced regularly and it's not too cold.

Maybe they should use solar paneling for the rotor blades? ;)

https://evtol.news/aircraft/sikorsky-firefly/ http://www.flugzeuginfo.net/acdata_php/acdata_s61n_en.php


The photos show a Bell 430, from different sources I calculate a fuel efficiency of around 1.2 L per km up to 333 L per hour.

Depends if you carpool I guess but I can't wait for air traffic to be miserable because of Uber

Not sure why you are being down-voted but air traffic is definitely going to be an issue if we keep going down this route. Same goes to that other article regarding Russian (?) flying cars. Air pollution, noise pollution, crashes will cause them to fall from the sky onto... well, anywhere really, and so on.

The negative externalities for this type of transport must be massive. Even the noise pollution on its own should probably disqualify this beyond public emergency services.

This is a spot that’s been a commercial helicopter landing/ launch pad for decades. It’s between the FDR Highway and the Hudson River. It’s not adding a lot of noise to anything.

At a time where it's more urgent than ever to de-carbonise our economy, it's quite depressing to see this...

I took an Uber helicopter at EDC Las Vegas. It was partnered out with a local company that did the usual tours. It was pretty convenient and a cool add-on by Uber.

> Uber says the service is intended to reduce travel times, but when Reuters tried Copter on Wednesday, a trip from its Midtown office to the airport took 70 minutes, including a subway ride downtown and two Uber rides to and from the heliport. That’s about the same time it would have taken by regular taxi in moderate traffic.

Helicopters are the beasts - mechanically, operationally and humanly. We need to invest in quad/hexcopter style autonomous point-to-point person-carrying flying vehicles. That could enable ability to fly out from nearly every building roof top with fraction of a cost. The 10-minute flight is also easily achievable with electrical UAVs.


Uber Copter is just the beginning.. I’m on the Uber Elevate team developing this. Our primary mission is Electric VTOLs.

Do you ever take pause at the probable environmental hellhole you are helping creating working on this?

I, for one, cannot wait for mid-air collisions and parts falling down on residential areas, which is of course just the tip of the iceberg.

Seriously, I doubt they care. They probably know about these negative impacts, the risks, etc. but money is money.


There are at least half a dozen startups working on different variants. Most seem to be leaning towards electric VTOL planes rather than quad/hexcopter type things. E.g. https://lilium.com

The additional revenue from this stream is a drop in the bucket to Uber. I could be off here, but this seems like they will likely use these type of things just as advertisements and branding.

Hey there, we actually launched this as a precursor to our Uber Air service with all electric VTOLs -- Uber.com/air

It is. They did Uber helicopter at Cannes ad festival last year or the year before but it was a stunt. They also have Uber boats in Croatia but the locals told me it basically doesn’t exist as nobody local wants to do it.

Helicopter Taxis are much cheaper than I thought they would be. What distance do they travel for that amount of money? Not familiar with New York.

Well, at least it's true to their name. You are literally above/over.

I worry about crazy people easily flying on a helicopter and crashing it.

Crashing a taxi isn't such a big deal, but crashing an airplane or helicopter is.


There are already helicopter tours and other companies offering this same air-taxi service. Is your worry new upon hearing this news, or is Uber somehow more dangerous?

Helicopter is a sucker's trap. Safety is nearly non-existing comparing to modern planes. Wait until the first accident and closure.

Can you feel the “disruption”?

All these ride sharing / ride hailing things are more trouble than their price (see note) if you’re anywhere near a cab line or major avenue or cross street.

All NYC cabs now let you use an app like Curb to just key in their number and have the ride paid like magic with no card payment interaction at all.

Only use case left for ride hailing would be if you’re all dressed up and don’t want to walk from your front door to hail a cab, but the ride hailing drivers seem completely confused when expected to show up at an actual address instead of a pin on a corner, so the brands squander that advantage.

Note: I’m not price conscious, it’s literally just more hassle to use something other than a cab if you’re in Manhattan. If Uber, Lyft, or Juno saved me time or hassle, I’d spend an arbitrary price. They don’t, they take longer, and are completely unpredictable as to whether they’ll ever stop circling the block and actually come get you. Can add 15+ minutes just messing around getting to you in midtown. Cabs are less volatility, now just as easy to pay for (there’s an app for that), and incidentally, also less cost.


I'm not going to reward an industry that spent decades squandering innovation and didn't modernize until Uber came along. That's ridiculous. I'm happy with Lyft since I don't ever have to worry about "being near a cab line" or a major avenue. I just open the app and I can tell it where I want to go and where I'm at.

Eh - I've had some really terrible NYC yellow cab drivers - drivers that drove really unsafely, wouldn't listen to my instructions about what route to take, made wrong turns, etc. I haven't had this problem with drivers on Uber/Lyft/Juno. I suspect that the average skill level of NYC cab drivers has gone down, since the more experiences drivers that have saved up enough for a car lease have switched to the ride-hailing services, leaving yellow cabs to be driven mostly by relatively recent arrivals to the city.

I'll hail one if I'm in a hurry and I'm already on an avenue, but otherwise I'll go out of my way to avoid it. I agree that it's really frustrating waiting for an Uber in traffic-heavy places like Midtown during rush hour, though - the yellow cab probably wins for those cases if you can find one that's empty.


> drivers that drove really unsafely, wouldn't listen to my instructions about what route to take, made wrong turns, etc. I haven't had this problem with drivers on Uber/Lyft/Juno.

This sums up most of my urban Uber/Lyft experiences, be it Boston, Chicago, or NYC. Also my experiences when I'm driving and somebody's got an Uber sticker on the car.

Cabs don't exactly vet driving, but Uber/Lyft have a lot of folks out there that probably shouldn't be driving. And it's pretty wishful thinking to think that Uber/Lyft don't have recent arrivals driving--Uber at least will give a warm body a lease and take the payments out of what those drivers make on the platform. (A big part of what passes for "their business" is car loans!)


That's why Uber and Lyft have rating systems, and bar people from driving if the rating as a driver is too low

> bar people from driving if the rating as a driver is too low

With Uber's driver turnover being what it is, I wonder what has to happen for Uber to bar a driver.

My bet is that they'll semi-shadow ban instead. Keep them in the system for capacity, but silently send less work their way. Especially to "complainy" customers.


I'm not too sure about the specifics, but I have yet to be paired with a driver that has less than a 4.0 (although I don't watch to keenly). Most of them are 4.5+. I haven't rated anybody below a four

In the scenario proposed, they would be lying to you about the rating.

Ah, yes. That's why. And when they finally--after all, they're only a decade old!--get enough information for these ratings to work, I'll be thrilled.

Put my car in storage two years ago, using a lot of ride share and cabs these days.

Rarely have a yellow cab driver get lost, despite no GPS. I can think of three in three years.

At least 2 of every 5 ride-share pickups, drivers can’t seem to figure out how to get to me.

At last 1 of 5 ride shares I file for refunds on drive costs because drivers blindly followed GPS directions despite bad signal on their phones, circling the destination, sometimes passing within a block of destination several times, yet never arriving.

In each of these cases, the ride share company has the data that shows the driver can’t find the pickup and can’t find the destination, yet doesn’t do anything proactive with that knowledge.


I have used ride-share services many times in a wide range of different cities, and I simply don't believe your claim of 20 - 40% problems. I suspect you're exaggerating the numbers to try to make a point.

GPS signal in Manhattan is specifically unreliable, I believe it for that one location

Cabs are getting better these days, especially with app improvements, but as your note mentions unless I know I'm always going to be in a place where there is a large taxi presence partnered with Curb then it's still not even a real option. E.g. Curb isn't where I am now but I can get a 3 AM Uber to my Airport, hop off at JFK, and Uber there too. The inverse is not true and will likely never be 100% true.

I attempted Uber, Juno, and Lyft, from JFK to midtown, on Saturday, around 9 PM.

Didn’t mind any of the prices offered, ranging from $60 (Lyft) to $160 (Uber XL). Some had waits of 15 mins plus, some couldn’t get the pick-up pin to stick where I was, Uber went into beach-ball spinner mode, and wouldn’t match to a driver.

Fed up with all the tech fail, I walked to cab line, no wait, $55 flat fee to midtown.


Chicago has a very heavy cab presence and yet you'll get a lot of strange looks if you're standing on your residential street with your arm out expecting to get a cab. They'll drive by when dropping people off, but you'd be standing there awkwardly for a very long time.

I can have an Uber at my door in < 3 minutes with two clicks on my phone.


you'll get a lot of strange looks if you're standing on your residential street with your arm out expecting to get a cab.

Depends a lot on your neighborhood, and the time of day.

I lived in The Loop, and in the Gold Coast, and just walking out the front door of my building, I'd get anywhere from one to three cabs honking at me to see if I needed a ride.

But then, once you got past Halsted, Division, or Harrison, it was taxi ghost town.

In every town I've lived, the taxi industry killed itself by focusing on tourists and office workers, and not being available where the locals need them.


To be fair I think you’d get strange looks on just about any residential street with your arm out looking for a cab unless you live in, and count the loop to be “residential”.

Here in Chicago someone would just ask “why don’t you take dah CTA over derr?” and you know it’s true, heh.


My highrise building apparently has a cab light that can be requested to be turned on. I saw someone use it once, it didn't seem like they waited very long for a cab to pull up to the front door.

Depends on the building. If you're on the lake end of Lakeshore East, those cab lights will whirl and blink for hours before a cab will accidentally wander past Aon Center and see it.

Not everyone lives in luxury buildings.

Is a switchable light really a luxury?

True in parts of NYC that cabs are street-hail-able. When I lived in downtown Brooklyn it was quite easy to street hail a cab and then use Curb to handle payment. But now that I live deeper in Brooklyn, there are basically no cabs to street hail on any street in walking distance, and using Curb to request a cab usually takes 10 minutes. Using Lyft takes more like 2-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, my office is on Canal Street, which seems to be basically filled with already booked cabs - while it's in a busy part of lower Manhattan, I have had no luck street hailing when I'm sick and need to get home. If you're in Midtown I definitely believe that street hailing is easier/faster than app hailing.


Interesting. In SF, most of the time I just walk outside when my car has arrived and jump in. Then I get to my destination and jump out. The next time I take a ride I may do things like hit the 5 star button and the No Tip button but that's it. Most of the time my start and destination are already available from a quicklist because whatever time-and-location-search Lyft has is damned good.

I don't want to key in numbers and shit. Not even a QR code?

For this standard experience, I'm willing to sacrifice the tails: driver getting lost on way, driver being a dick. The rarity makes that worth it. Happens to me maybe once in 20 rides. Looks like you have a different calculus.


I don’t think you should be down voted, but seriously? Try hailing a cab in rush hour or bad weather. Or a neighborhood outside of Manhattan with few cabs. Before Uber that’s what we did, and it sucked.

I lived in Flatbush and Bay Ridge, and we just called car service.

It's like Uber, but instead of using an app on your phone, you use a phone on your phone.


Except most people don't live in NYC. Here in LA, all the taxis I've ever been in were dirty, the drivers drove recklessly, and were much more expensive.

Whenever I'm in NYC or other cities, it's also much more convenient to just use Uber or Lyft than to have to download and register an account for whatever app that city's taxis use.


Not if you are in northern Manhattan, where cabs don't go.

Because NYC is everywhere?

Certainly not like this in Toronto.


> Toronto

Sometimes happens at Fri/Sat 2AM on King/Queen downtown. Uber/Lyft will surge and there'll be a million empty cabs driving by.


I would rather pay more to take an Uber/Lyft than a Taxi almost always.

With the ride share services, I have a full record of my trip and ability to rate the driver afterwards. I can even contact someone if something goes wrong or if I lose something in the car.

I just have a much better experience start to finish and I'm willing to pay a premium for that.


What does that tell you? People hate the service of cabs so much that they'll pay surge prices rather than use cabs.

The price has never been the major factor, although ridesharing certainly was cheaper than cabs in the beginning and almost always is today.



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