Uber Express POOL: Uber’s Lowest Cost Option Yet

Over the years Uber has been testing out all kinds of things in hopes of even further increasing market share. A few years back Uber introduced UberPOOL, which is basically Uber’s version of carpooling — they match you with people traveling in the same direction as you, allowing you to share the ride and cost.

While that has been a popular option, it’s not perfect. Sometimes you have to go significantly out of your way to pick someone up, and it’s always a gamble. Sometimes you’ll order an UberPOOL but no one else will be picked up, while other times you have to make a couple of stops, which may be out of the way.

Uber is now introducing a modified version of this, called Uber Express POOL. By walking a little, Uber Express POOL can save you up to 30% compared to the cost of UberPOOL.

This new service addresses one of the downsides to UberPOOL, which is that many of the routings aren’t efficient. So rather than having to make a detour to pick you up, Uber Express POOL instead has you walk to a convenient pick-up spot. If done correctly, this should save everyone time. Uber doesn’t say the limit of how far you’d have to walk, but it looks like they’re trying to limit it to a couple of blocks on each end of the trip.

Here’s how Uber describes the process of using Express POOL:

And here’s how they describe the benefits:

Uber began testing this concept late last year in San Francisco, and is now officially expanding it. As of today, Uber Express POOL will be available in Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. Over the coming weeks, many more US cities will be added.

Presently UberPOOL accounts for about 20% of Uber’s business in markets where they offer the service, and they’re hoping that Uber Express POOL will expand that, given that this is the market where they see the most potential new customers. In some cases they’re almost competing with a bus or subway, given how cheap fares can get.

What do you make of Uber Express POOL? Would you consider taking it?

Comments

  1. On Uber pool I’ve had many times suggestions to walk a little bit for a better price….so I guess many people used that they decided to turn it into a feature

  2. I live in DC. I can already walk a few blocks and ride with strangers to a few blocks from my destination. It’s called metro.

  3. Uber Express pool could be good on university campuses, where there are often uber pool requests from 2+ people on either side of campus. Easy enough for pax to walk to central location and get in uber than wasting time for uber to make circles of campus.

  4. Is that the same metro that had that yearlong work for maintenance and still has issues with delays and construction? Red line anyone? yeah no thanks.

  5. This is an interesting development in the ride-hailing market, thank you for pointing this out, Lucky. Uber basically copying what Via does and is to establish with ViaVAN in Europe as well.

    @Emily, which is often on fire, so I’ve heard ? No offense, glad that there is public transportation, but it is a far cry from being a reliable source getting from A to B.

    @Anthony, I don’t see how they compete with Via lunch-wise in NYC – not for now. Something must keep Uber from launching the same option there. This is of course pending further roll-out.

  6. more options is a good thing. DC metro is great and this would be a good backup plan. For people like me with no metro and limited busses, it seems like a good option.

  7. @Emily,

    What a spoiled-little-millennial name you have. Let me guess, you live up near U Street?

    For those of use who live in the wilderness that starts 6 blocks from metro, Uber Pool and Ubep Pool Express are nice to have.

  8. I have used it here in the SF area.

    The big downside is that uber’s system doesn’t coordinate where it tells pax to walk with where it tells drivers to stop. So, for example, I was directed to the NE corner of an intersection, while the driver was sent to an address on the SE, across the street.

    The driver had to phone me, and told me that she was “outside my house,” which is how she interpreted the address uber gave her.

    Otherwise my experience has been positive: not too much additional time for the additional stops, and about a third the price of a private ride.

  9. @anthony @19nixxon91
    The NYers I know using Via chose it because it can be paid as a pre-tax commute expense, a la TransitChex. That makes for a 20-40% reduction in its cost.

  10. @Lucky

    UberPool in NYC already makes me walk up to a few blocks at pickup and/or dropoff. Will they drop the “walking” requirement on UberPool in NY or will they just not launch Express Pool here?

  11. The issue with walking is that it often creates chaos with drivers having to call me to find out where I am. I don’t want phone calls from drivers. I want a seamless pickup and drop off with minimal conversation.

  12. @Scudder I believe you can get a prepaid transit card from many employers today, which is funded by pre-tax dollars. That debit card can be added to your Uber profile and used to pay for rides, essentially leveling the claim that VIA has a cost advantage to users.

  13. I use via in NYC and it’s great. The car/van travels down a preset route doing pickups and dropoffs as needed. No wasting time going down a bunch of one way streets to pick someone up at their door, instead they walk 1-2 minutes and saves everyone time.

  14. We have it in SF and I use it 50/50 with Muni for my commute. IMHO, it doesn’t make you walk enough. It’ll frequently pick me up right outside of my office, and then stop for someone else a block or two away. Dropoffs are similar – it’s usually been 3 passengers in my rides, and often, two of them are getting off within a couple of blocks of each other.

    It is inexpensive and overall something I like, but I’d absolutely be willing to walk a bit more to shave 10 minutes off of a trip.

  15. Don’t make the same mistake that I did. I had some time to kill and it was midday at JFK so I thought I’d save a little money. The app said there was one other pickup and the driver would pick me and my wife up in 5 minutes. We waited 10 minutes and there was another pickup and another. So I called the driver and said, “you know we have luggage, right? Do you have room?” He said, “No, you should cancel.” So we ordered another car. Won’t use this at the airport ever again. It worked fine a couple of times going out to dinner and once we were the only pickup.

  16. @JJJ I think it’s safe to assume people in the arrivals area at an airport may have luggage unless the usual customers are airport workers. Anyway, I’m just saying that if you have luggage, you may not want to use UberPool to/from the airport.

  17. Steve: Are you saying you don’t want a driver that talks on the phone while allegedly paying attention to traffic? You sound like someone with something to live for.

    I generally view the Uber or Lyft badge as a warning that the driver is distracted. I drove with them for about a year but stopped 6 months ago. I still have the Uber sticker in the window, as it makes other drivers give me a wide berth and I can stop in red zones without getting harassed.

  18. UberPOOL is for cheaper and poorer clientele. That’s why I never use it. I don’t want to share the car with icky people.

  19. @Rico brings up a good point regarding using UberPool at the airport. Uber/Lyft should really add a disclaimer that if you have more than a carry on, you should use UberX. I was once in a 3 person pool where one person had a large suitcase and a set of golfclubs. WTF! The driver managed to make it fit, but we all ended up with carryons on our laps during the ride.

  20. Drivers HATE Pool. I’ve been driving since September (2100+ rides), and after accepting a dozen pool rides at the beginning (because I was a newbie), I avoid them always. Obviously, other drivers do as well as that I’ll get a Pool request that’s 15 minutes away (with lots of driver saturation) that every other driver has rejected before me.

    It pays drivers a lower rate, the riders are generally less respectful, the multiple pickups and drop offs (the former coming with very lead time while en route) are stressful and when a car fills up, the awkward energy (because no one knows anyone else) is a downer.

    They should just call it UberBus.

  21. Hers a driver’s perspective on UberPOOL, from a driver’s message board/ forum (an ‘ant’ is how drivers refer to other drivers):

    “Yep……….I have sat and watched pax stand on the curb angrily staring at their phone and hard tapping the screen as if that would make their Uber pool request get answered this time. How do I know what they are doing? Cuz my app is going “Ping! Ping! (POOL) Ping! Ping” (1 minute.) They look up after the second unanswered request and look around, always staring at the nose of my Prui. I sit there blase faced (app slid to off and phone blacked out) Pax walks up “Are you Uber?!!”:mad:

    “Nope man…….Amazon Flex. On a break”(sips on my Chill cup):cool:

    “Oh OK.”

    Sure enough, less than 5 minutes later, here comes a dumb Ant to scoop up his cheap, and now disgruntled A$$ pax.

    (heard while getting into car) “Why does it take so long to get a F’n Uber around here!!!” What are you guys doing?!! Why don’t you people learn how to do your job?!!”

    (Ant) “Huh?” (looks over at me)

    Smooches…..Ant”

  22. @Hosea +1.

    As a former Metro commuter I was going to make a joke about the other Metro perks (like being crushed against the door on the green line at rush hour or relaxing in a tunnel for an indeterminate amount of time or the dreaded single tracking) in response to @Emily’s comment. She was right on the money, funny and pithy. But then the haters had a meltdown. I mean really, insulting someone for their name? That’s what happens when you don’t have something intelligent to say.

    I’ve said it before but this is why we can’t have nice things, like intelligent conversations in the comments section.

  23. About time I should say. In India, Ola Cabs has had this feature for a long time now.
    It’s called Ola Share Express.
    Hmmmm. Coincidence?
    But it’s only on certain fixed routes and the savings are up to 20% more.
    Personally when I tried it, it worked fine for like medium to long trips, but on smaller ones, it’s not that time saving.
    It’s really dampened the Uber POOL experience when you had to take a 15 minute extra detour to reach your own stop 10 minutes away.
    Hope they roll this out worldwide soon!

  24. @Steve – No attitude (otherwise my 4.94 rating would be much lower, I suspect). Gallows humor, perhaps. But accepting Pool isn’t the best economic decision as a driver when there is plenty of UberX demand. Not worth the hassle. If the economics were improved, this behavior would change. Happy to know you’re thinking of me, though.

  25. @Eric

    It’s not really about you. You’re there to do a job and it sounds like you aren’t doing it. I’d love to see Uber implement a requirement that all drivers have to complete a minimum number of Uberpool drives per day. If you fail to meet that requirement, Uber hits you with a penalty.

    If you don’t like it, you could always go back to your Pre Uber “career,” flipping burgers.

  26. @ Steve

    Lol you make it sound like Uber has a ton of leverage left with its driver base…I disagree. Competition in the category has never been tougher, they continue to bleed money, drivers have been pushed to the edge, etc….don’t think Uber is in any position to be punishing their highly rated drivers for pushing back on such a dumb, economically irrational (for the driver) product offering.

    But maybe you’re lucky and Dara Khosrowshahi will see this post and give you a job since you seem to be so intent on defending Uber.

  27. And this is why I stick to Lyft… less attitude. Less money to Travis who created the culture that created the attitude.

  28. @Steve – Your ignorance continues with your latest comment. I don’t work for Uber and neither does any driver. If Uber wanted to pay me an hourly wage (never going to happen) and if that were something I wanted to do, then I would accept POOL rides.

    However, since I am legally allowed as an independent contractor to accept whatever rides I want, I’ll continue to reject POOL rides (and presumably, you’ll continue to waiting longer to catch the POOL rides you are so clearly defending. That, or you’re just a troll who has no dog in this fight).

  29. @Steve

    With your attitude, I expect you’ve been fired from nearly every job you’ve held through the years (Walmart, Mickey D’s, iHop). If you’re not careful, your days driving me wherever I need to go may be numbered. Good luck at Sidecar.

  30. I believe their competition for this is from Via; an app that offers ride sharing in NYC that started about a year ago with the same concept. You order the Via, they match you to your origin & drop off point but it’s set at an close intersection, not the exact location you type in. The cost is set, generally regardless of distance (at least when traveling in Manhattan).

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