Uber and Cabs: Around the Clock


In short: The time-of-day that Uber and Yellow Cab pick-up in New York between April and September 2014, and how Uber is (or was) catching up.

Description: There are 4.5 million Uber pick-ups, and 82.4 million yellow cab pick-ups between April and September 2014. Each is shown as a ring on the image, the radius scaling with the total pick-ups with the lightness of color scaling with the number of pick-ups, all shown on the 24-hour clock. The bars between the rings show how Uber pick-ups are approaching the previously dominant yellow cab pick-ups. This image is an evolution of this previous image. The data is more complex than Uber just increasing while yellow cabs decrease. Pick-up locations are clearly a factor as shown previously, however the time-of-day seems to be another strong factor. This image lends itself to a far deeper understanding of how the balance of power is shifting between the two means of transportation.

The image was inspired by Kenneth Noland who used target shapes painted on a bare canvas background to lift the image and give maximum intensity to the image. Like Noland, these rings suggest the ever spinning action of a clock, and the change in color as the numbers shift from day to night and the inclusion of the grey-scale bars between the rings lift the rings above the flat plane and also aides the viewer in interpreting the data on two planes.

Point of interest: The times between 6am and 9am show interesting behavior as the decrease in yellow cabs is at its strongest but the increase of Uber is not so strong which suggests, overall, that people are choosing other modes of transport for the summer. Walking and enjoying the sunshine.
Technical: 6 months of Uber and Yellow Cab pick-up times between April and September 2014. Uber data obtained via FOI request (https://github.com/fivethirtyeight/uber-tlc-foil-response) and Yellow Cab data available at https://nycopendata.socrata.com/. The area of each ring scales with the total number of pick-ups, while maintaining the width of each ring. The color-scale (yellow: cabs; green: Uber) is lighter on each ring for more pick-ups, and represents a 24-hour clock. The difference in the first and last 3-month periods are displayed as the bars between the two rings – the longer/lighter the bar the larger the difference. As Uber pick-ups are increasing and yellow-cabs decreasing in all cases both sets of bars approach each other.

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