Uber this week rolled out a new service in the Washington area designed to offer cheaper rides for multiple passengers, though it may require a bit more waiting and walking.
The ridesharing service launched Uber Express Pool, which operates similar to the Uber Pool service, but with less precise pickup and dropoff points. The idea behind the service is to offer rides with less backtracking and more efficient routes. In exchange, fares will be lower than with Uber Pool.
Uber Express Pool launched in Washington Thursday after pilot programs in San Francisco and Boston. It also launched this week in Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Diego.
Here’s how Uber Express Pool works:
- First riders will use the Uber app to hail a ride. Riders may have to wait for a few minutes for drivers to find other riders along your route.
- Uber will tell you where to meet your driver. You may have to walk a few blocks to a corner so that drivers can avoid backtracking or encountering detours.
- The Uber driver drops you off somewhere in the vicinity of your destination, though you may have to walk a few blocks to get there.
So is Uber Express Pool any better than Uber Pool? And how is it different than simply taking public transit?
Early reviews suggest that Uber Express Pool is $2-3 cheaper per ride than Uber Pool and significantly cheaper than a regular solo Uber ride. Which begs the question: why not just take the bus?
“Pool Express may similarly make Uber an option for people who would otherwise skip the app over higher prices,” writer Sidney Fussell wrote for Gizmodo this week. “And who are we talking about, exactly? Uber is aiming Pool Express squarely at commuters who want to save money, but don’t want to ride the bus.”
Uber bristled at the notion that Uber Express Pool is just like bus service, noting that there are no set routes or pickup times. Uber Director Ethan Stock told the Washington Post that public transit still does the best job of moving large numbers of people along high-volume routes, but that Uber Express Pool can help fill serve the “diversity” of routes that people take.
Would you consider taking Uber Express Pool instead of Metro or other public transit?
For Uber, Express Pool is basically an admission that they're competing for daily commuters --— Faiz Siddiqui (@faizsays) February 21, 2018
against transit in some cases. But no matter how many seats get filled, ride-hailing can't match capacity of trains and buses.