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City releases data for millions of cab trips

Data for millions of yellow and green cab trips is now publicly available online for the first time, the Taxi and Limousine Commission said Monday.

Anyone can look at each trip's pick-up and drop-off time, location, distance, fare, and the numbers of passengers per ride. The data, which comes from software in the cabs that uses GPS, is available now, covering Jan. 2014 to June 30, 2015. Cab trip data going back to 2009 will be added soon, the agency said. It will then update the trip information every six months.

Before it became public online, getting access to the data required a Freedom of Information Law request and a hard drive.

The information can be used to do anything from analyzing city traffic speeds to studying cab demand. The NYU Rudin Center said it would use it to look at when riders on delayed subways got onto cabs, and how taxi usage has been changing.

"Are people traveling to different neighborhoods? Are they affected by the pedestrian plazas?" said Sarah Kaufman, an assistant director at the Rudin Center. "There's a wealth of data with so much potential."

Data scientist Chris Whong, who describes himself as a civic hacker, said he had to purchase a new 200-gigabyte hard drive when he put in a data request for 2013 data from the TLC. "This is useful for transparency and accountability," he said.


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