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This visualization from Hubcab shows pickups and dropoffs of 170 million taxi trips over one year in New York City. Photo via MIT Senseable City Lab.

Last month, both Uber and Lyft announced that they were testing out ways for people to carpool with others who are riding on similar routes. The feature helps passengers cut their ride costs by as much as 60 percent.

Now, MIT researchers have found that services like UberPool and Lyft Line not only save money for riders, but also reduce pollution, road congestion, and travel time by significant amounts.

Lyft Line lets people share Lyft rides.
Lyft Line lets people share Lyft rides.

MIT News has the details of a study that analyzed 150 million trip records from more than 13,000 taxi cabs in New York City. Researchers from MIT, Cornell, and the Italian National Research Council’s Institute for Informatics and Telematics applied a series of algorithms and found that if people were willing to wait an extra five minutes per trip to pick up other passengers, almost 95 percent of trips could be shared. If that happened, travel time could have been slashed by more than 30 percent while also reducing traffic and pollution.

The study is further proof of how tools like UberPool and Lyft Line can be beneficial. Lyft Line debuted to all users in San Francisco last month — more cities will see the feature soon — while UberPool became available to everyone in San Fran today. Sidecar is also testing out a sharing rides feature in the Bay Area.

Of course, the success of these new services will depend on people’s willingness to share rides with strangers. But given the opportunity to save more than half off a fare, it wouldn’t be surprising to see tools like Lyft Line gain popularity.

You can explore the data here, and see the full study here.

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