This might not be all that surprising to anyone with a wallet and a time where they just had to take a damn car already, but it turns out that Uber is expensive. Yes! Shocking. A new study from a team of computer scientists tried to parse when taking a conventional yellow taxi is less expensive than hailing an Uber car, and vice versa. The short version? Unless your trip is over $35, you’re probably better off with a good old-fashioned car.
The team’s data analysis, as reported in the MIT Technology Review and parsed by Brokelyn, attempted to compare trips of similar length in an Uber X (none of that fancy stuff) and a yellow cab, through filing a Freedom of Information Act request for yellow cab logs. Uber was not all that cooperative, shocker: they gave estimates of the minimum and maximum possible fares for the same journeys. This eliminated things like surge pricing and other sneaky Uber tricks for maxing out the cash taken from your wallet, but basically it looks like yellow cabs are cheaper most of the time.
Of course, part of the reason that Uber has gained a foothold is that you’re paying for convenience: In neighborhoods where hailing a yellow cab is damn near impossible (most anywhere not in Manhattan), shelling out a couple extra dollars for an Uber to arrive promptly at your door might be worth it. It also doesn’t take into account gypsy cabs and car services, which usually run for a flat, negotiated fee. But if you’re just mulling between a cab and an Uber, the researchers developed an app called OpenCabApp for taxi riders to compare the two potential fares.