Priceoftravel.com, a website dedicated to cataloging quantitative information about traveling the world, has produced a study comparing the average price ranges of taxi cab rides in 72 different cities. Though the site does not specify how it selected the cities, it explains that each price range was determined by hiring a single 3 kilometer ride. The cost of that ride was then extrapolated into a range by factoring in possible costs or savings based on different local cab companies and such variations as time of day.
Though the information was generated for use by tourists, it sheds a fascinating light on how local economies and transportation infrastructure function for locals in disparate corners of the globe. Here are the five most expensive:
$18.18 – $24.24 Zurich, Switzerland
$17.12 – $22.26 Oslo, Norway
$15.28 – $19.44 Monaco, Monaco
$13.89 – $19.44 Helsinki, Finland
$13.47 – $13.47 Amsterdam, Netherlands
And here are the five cheapest:
$0.90 – $1.58 Delhi, India
$0.97 – $1.28 Mumbai, India
$1.04 – $1.73 Cairo, Egypt
$1.14 – $1.71 La Paz, Bolivia
$1.17 – $1.87 Manila, Philippines
Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen comments, "I am surprised that Panama City and KL make that list, otherwise it fits with the Bela Balassa hypothesis about cheap services in low productivity countries, or at least those with low productivity laborers at the margin, such as Mexico." The commenters on Cowen's post have added a number of insightful observations about what might push taxi prices up or down in particular cities. For example, one suggests that the preponderance of bikes in Indian cities provide competition that make cabs artificially cheap.
Elsewhere in comparative studies of urban transportation, Good Magazine is running a contest to determine the best bus rides in America. With cash-strapped cities across the U.S. slashing public transportation budgets, it will be interesting to see who wins.