updated 05:55 am EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
UberPool lets customer share Uber ride for a cheaper fare
Cab-hailing service Uber is looking to lower the cost of rides for its customers, by offering the option to car-pool with other users. Rolling out as a private beta, UberPool will allow customers to hail a car as normal, but it will attempt to find others requesting a similar journey so the car can be shared, with the cost significantly reduced for each UberPool participant.
The Uber blog writes the function will still provide a car for pick-up within five minutes of hailing, just as with normal Uber rides, though it will provide the first name of the co-rider for identification purposes. "On average, UberX already costs 40-percent less than a taxi. Imagine reducing that cost by up to another 40 percent!" the company suggests, while also advising that if it fails to find a co-rider, users of the mode will still receive a discount on the ride.
Uber acknowledges the potentially-awkward nature of car pooling with strangers, calling it a "bold social experiment." Google is apparently going to be taking part in the beta, though it is unclear in what capacity, while Uber suggests it will be expanding the beta to more users from August 15th.
The addition of UberPool and cheaper fares may help Uber become more favorable to potential users, but it could also infuriate existing taxi services who could consider the feature another attempt to erode their livelihoods.