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Coffee and Muffins Don't Entice Many Upper East Siders to Share a Taxi

By Serena Solomon | March 16, 2010 12:28pm | Updated on March 16, 2010 4:24pm
Cab drivers take advantage of free coffee and muffins from the TLC that was meant mainly for commuters.
Cab drivers take advantage of free coffee and muffins from the TLC that was meant mainly for commuters.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

By Serena Solomon

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER EAST SIDE — The Taxi and Limousine Commission on Tuesday served up a new strategy to encourage New Yorkers to participate in its taxi sharing program — free breakfast.

Coffee and muffins were served by TLC staffers, and even the department's commissioner, to coax riders into the back of a cab at the Upper East Side pickup location. Mostly cabs drivers and passersby availed themselves of the free meal, but few riders.

"A lot of people are choosing not to share," said outgoing TLC commissioner Matthew Daus while promoting the cause on E. 72nd Street and Third Avenue. He said two shared cabs had left the location, each with two passengers.

"We will see what the future is for this stand," said Daus. "If it works, it works."

Earlier this week, the TLC tried attracting riders with balloons. When the 12-month program launched March 3, one man couldn't find a taxi partner and had to walk to work in the rain.

The taxi sharing program will expand in the coming weeks to more pickup locations, such as the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Penn Station could also be a future pickup location.

Daus said the TLC was working on problems such as groups of people waiting with no cabs available or finding locations where people often catch cabs that are devoid of public transportation.

Currently, riders can share cabs from three locations in Manhattan — E. 72nd Street and Third Avenue, W. 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue and W. 57th Street and Eighth Avenue. All routes converge on park Avenue and continue to Grand Central Terminal.

The flat fare from the 72nd Street locations is $4 per passenger and $3 per passenger from W. 57th Street between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m on weekdays.

Jean Lee, a 21 year-old student, walked past the Upper East Side stand and picked up a free coffee and a muffin. She said she would be fine to share a cab, but not today.

"If we are going within a three block radius of each other, it's not a problem," said Lee. "There are some people that probably want privacy and that is fine."