Brooklyn Leads, Bronx Lags in Green Cab Tipping Rates

Brooklyn Leads, Bronx Lags in Green Cab Tipping Rates

Whether you are a fan or not, the NYC’s green Boro Taxis are here to stay.  And while I am appreciative of the extra options I now have for catching a ride in the outer boroughs and in Upper Manhattan, as the writer of this blog I’m even more appreciative of the added data that they create for us to better understand our City.

Now before I get into the data, I want to call again on the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to stop making citizens FOIL their data over and over again.  There is so much promise in this data, but making each individual interested party fill out a form for the same data is a drain on resources for the agency, and for our citizens.  It’s time for them to join the Open Data movement.

OK, enough of that.  The good news is that Chris Whong has come through once again where the TLC did not.  He FOILed Boro Taxi data for NYC and then he posted it online for all of us to use.  A certified Open Data hero!

So I’m going to be doing a series of posts exploring this data.  Today’s question:  Do riders in different neighborhoods tip at different levels? 

To find out, I mapped each December 2013 trip in the data to its start neighborhood (or NTA to be more specific) and then looked at the median tip percentage for all rides originating in that neighborhood. For this analysis, I only looked at trips paid for by credit card.  (Cash rides do not report tip data).  Note that Boro Taxis cannot pick up passengers in much of the southern half of Manhattan, so those neighborhoods are not included.

The resulting map is striking:

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Neighborhoods in red have lower median tips, while green have higher. There are definitely geographical patterns here.  White-colored neighborhoods on the map have less than 30 rides originating from them, and so they are left blank.

To find the neighborhood which tipped the most, I took all neighborhoods with at least 100 departures in December 2013, and then ranked them by median tip percentage:

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The top tipping neighborhood?  Windsor Terrace with a median tip (labeled 0.5) of 20.4% though only 104 trips started in the neighborhood.  Sunset Park West came in second with a median tip of 20.3%.  Many other Brooklyn neighborhoods fill out the rest of the top ten list, all with a median tip of 20%, which is one of the convenient preset options.

The bottom ten neighborhoods are all located in the Bronx, which stands out quite clearly in the map. In eight Bronx neighborhoods, less than half of riders leave a tip at all.  While the median tip percentage departing from Brooklyn as a whole is 20.0%, trips departing from the Bronx have a median tip of 6.7%.  Upper Manhattan has a 19.4% median while Queens has a 20.0% median.  The top tipping neighborhood in Queens is Steinway, though it ranks behind 18 Brooklyn neighborhoods.

I also found a moderate correlation of 42% between median neighborhood income with median tip percentage, indicating that income does play a role in tipping.

It’s worth noting that some riders may choose to leave a tip by cash, even when paying by credit card.  In those cases, the tip would be marked as 0. So it’s possible that Bronx riders rely more heavily on cash tips for some reason.

So does location matter when it comes to tipping?  Absolutely.  The map shows some strong spatial trends.  It could be a cash tip issue.  Or it could be a tip amount issue.  Or some combination of the two.

If you want to go to another borough to learn more about how they tip, I hear there is a green car just waiting to take you there.

Related Posts on I Quant NY:

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Boro Taxi data found here.
Neighborhood Tabulation Income here.
Neighborhood Tabulation Shape files here.

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