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Comparing taxis to ride sharing services

This morning I woke up to a post from venture capitalist Fred Wilson talking about the cost of loyalty when it comes to local transportation markets. More simply, it was a cost comparison between regular city taxis and ride sharing services such as a UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.

The data was sourced from and looks like this:

The way to understand this chart is to think about it as the answer to this question (from If I were to take 1,000 rides over my lifetime with one individual service, how much more would I pay than if I compared prices and always picked the cheapest option?

What you should immediately see is that regular taxis are far more expensive in San Francisco and Los Angeles compared to all of the ride sharing services. In the words of Fred Wilson: “That is crazy. They are going to go out of business in those markets with that pricing.”

In my words: They are fucked.

I wonder where Toronto would place against these cities. My gut tells me that we would be closer to San Francisco than New York. And if that is the case, I think you can figure out what that means.

I thought this would be an interesting post given yesterday’s point about our cities being multi-modal. We urbanites have many more options at our disposal than we did only a few years ago. And if they’re cheaper and more convenient, we’re going to use them. I think that’s a good thing.

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