A Day in the Life of an NYC Taxi Driver

While most New Yorkers spend their time surviving, dodging, or swearing at taxis, Brooklyn’s Chris Whong chose to interact with them a little differently with an interesting project. Whong— a self-professed “urbanite,” cartographer, and data junkie— charted and visualized what it would be like to be an NY taxi for a day.


When you hit the website you are greeted by a box offering a general idea of what you can expect with the forthcoming experience. With the app you can pretty much see where the cab operated, how much money they raked in, and if that motherfucking cabbie who said he was off duty when you tried to get picked up really was… sorry, we just had a moment. The cabs you follow are actually randomly chosen.

Whong sat down with FiveThirtyEight to share the story behind the project:

I was always aware that this data existed because I had seen it presented to me in a class at NYU. And when the TLC’s Twitter showed up I responded with, “Is the data available?” knowing that it wasn’t, but I wanted to hear what they said. Their response was, “You can FOIL it,” which I wasn’t actually expecting. Then it just became an adventure of seeing where this would take me, because I had never actually done a FOIL request before. I’ve heard lots of horror stories about getting back giant reams of paper, or printouts of PDFs, and printouts of charts, or even just them saying they don’t have the data or charging money for it. I have to give the TLC credit; it was relatively painless, despite having to make two trips downtown and provide a brand-new hard drive at personal expense. But overall, they were very responsive and I didn’t spend a lot of time waiting.

The map tracks all of this information for each respective cab for 24 hours, and also includes a box in the upper-right hand corner that tracks fares, passenger count, and tips. It’s pretty wild that dude threw all together for the fuck of it, but dope nonetheless. Head over to “A Day In The Life” to take the app for a spin and make sure you hit up FiveThirtyEight to read the rest of Chadwick Matlin’s interview with the Brooklyn cartographer.

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