Honk! Your Uber Carpool Is Arriving

UberPool matches riders traveling along similar routes for cheaper fares.

After aggressively slashing prices on its ridesharing service, Uber is following up by debuting a new tier that offers carpoolers cheaper fares.

UberPool

The startup began rolling out a private beta of its new offering, UberPool, in the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday and plans to expand the testing more broadly August 15. With UberPool, an algorithm matches riders with up to one other passenger (a maximum of two riders in an UberPool) traveling along similar routes. People who choose UberPool will still receive a 40% discount during this trial period if they are not matched with other riders.

Though Uber didn't specify how the discounted fare will be calculated, it mentioned some hypothetical prices in San Francisco:

On average, uberX already costs 40% less than taxi. Imagine reducing that cost by up to another 40%! In San Francisco, how about $6 to Uber from the Castro to the Financial District? Or $10 from Sunset to SOMA?

Beyond saving money, Uber is also stressing the social aspect of this experience. For starters, when riders are matched, the app will tell them each other's first names. "This is also a bold social experiment," the company said in a blog post. "There’s the interaction between riders in an UberPool--should they talk to each other? When is that cool and when is it, well, annoying?"

[Images courtesy of Uber]

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  • Soon the Uber algorithm will have trouble distinguishing cheap fares, convenience, and travel time. I write this because Uber wants to satisfy everyone, a strategy that just isn't viable for a startup.