While taking taxi home from the MSP airport the other night, a cabbie lectured me about the directions I gave him to my house. To my house!
As a frequent traveler with a frequent traveling wife, I make at least 50 round trips to the airport from my house a year, so I tend to think that I have a pretty good grasp on how to get from these particular Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible. But, upon arrival at my house, the cabbie told me that he knew how to get to my house better than I did.
Here is the route I guided the cabbie through from the Humphrey Terminal at MSP to my home in the Longfellow Neighborhood of Minneapolis (1):
I was checking my email when we left Humphrey, so I didn’t immediately pick up on the fact that he went South on 34th rather than North to Post Rd. After that, I am responsible for the rest of the turns. Hwy 5 to Hiawatha to 46th St E to 46th Ave S to home.
Upon arriving at my home, the cabbie noticed that it’s close to Lake Street and asked me why I didn’t take Hiawatha to Lake Street like this (2):
I told him that it’s a longer route because Hiawatha moves further West as you head North.
He told me that I had wasted his time and fuel by taking him up 46th Ave S instead of Hiawatha. He wasn’t a fan of the stop signs every other block along 46th.
Here are a couple other routes worth considering for this discussion. Google Maps’ driving directions suggests this route of Post Rd and Hiawatha to Lake (3).
This is what I believe is the fastest route to my house from the Humphrey Terminal. Post Rd, Hiawatha to 46th St E, North on 46th Ave S (4):
And this, I believe, is the shortest distance, although it’s not the fastest since the park road through Minnehaha Park is slower than Hiawatha. Hiawatha to 54th through Minnehaha Park, then up 46th Ave S (5).
So, who’s right?
Here’s a breakdown of the distances along with time estimates from Google Maps:
1. 9.3 Miles – 23 Minutes
2. 10.5 Miles – 22 Minutes
3. 9.9 Miles – 20 Minutes
4. 8.7 Miles – 22 Minutes
5. 8.5 Miles – 21 Minutes
One thing is blatantly clear to me: The cabbie’s suggested route (2) is at least .6 miles longer than it needs to be because he goes the long way around Fort Snelling Cemetery when leaving the Humphrey terminal. While that provides faster access to a highway, it’s far enough out of the way to be no faster time wise. However, based on how cabbies are compensated (mileage) it’s pretty clear why he’s choose that route.
Beyond that, it’s very close. Google’s suggested route has the fastest estimate time. However, there is a huge X factor here: Stoplights. The time estimate for taking Hiawatha to Lake Street should have a huge asterisks next to it since that could vary by at least 5 minutes based on whether the lights are being screwed up by the LRT. Additionally, the cab would have to deal with at least 7 lights along E Lake Street. By comparison, from 46th & Hiawatha, taking 46th Street will involve three short lights before hitting 46th Ave S.
The current meter rate is $1.90/mile on top of a $2.50 flag drop and a $2.75 airport fee.
It looks like my optimized route takes the exact same time as what he suggested (although it could be even better based on stoplights killing his route). And my route is almost 2 miles shorter, so around $3.50 cheaper.
However, this is an expensable trip for me. After a long day of travel I just want to get home fast so the $3.50 difference isn’t my main motivator. I just want to get home ASAP.
The Green Angle
So, let’s assume the time would have been exactly the same for the cab ride whether we had taken my preferred route or his. Which route is greener? Could he have saved fuel by taking the longer route? I’m sure this is possible in some scenarios, but could he really drive 13-20% further and come out ahead on fuel consumption? I have my doubts but would love to hear your theories on that.
The cabbie suggested to me that I could negotiate the fare so I could pay him based on my route while letting him drive his preferred route. Not a bad compromise, I suppose, but seems like a lot of work for over $3.50 difference, especially considering how difficult it could be to explain what I’m trying to do to a typical cabbie. And it doesn’t address my primary concern: time.
What’s your take? Is there a clear winner when it comes to route optimization in this situation?
Which route would you pick?
How would you deal with a cabbie who second guesses driving directions to your own house?