If you don’t mind riding with strangers in an UberPool and want to save a few more bucks, you can now walk a little bit and meet your co-passengers in a centralized location before getting picked up.
Uber’s calling it an ‘Express Pool,’ but to us it sounds like an Uber Bus Stop.
The ride-sharing company announced the service Wednesday, with the option made immediately available to customers in Los Angeles, San Diego and Denver. On Thursday, the service will expand to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Miami, joining Boston and San Francisco (where it already piloted) before rolling out nationwide at a yet-to-be announced date.
What makes Express Pool so cheap compared to the standard Pool and UberX options is that it corrals multiple people to pickup points, where users are expected to walk and share the same car, to offer discounted fares. The company says the new service will be up to 50% cheaper than UberPool and up to 75% cheaper than UberX.
“Walking and waiting help us make more optimal matches and provide better, straighter, faster routes with fewer detours, delivering an even more affordable and consistent option than POOL to consumers,” Ethan Stock, Uber’s product director for shared rides, wrote in a blog post.
Those more-affordable fares come not only at the cost of walking, but a slightly longer wait time — up to two minutes, according to Uber. But customers could find it worth it: A screenshot provided by Uber demonstrating the new service shows a ride in San Francisco during 8 a.m. rush hour costing just $2.95.
Such fares will raise more questions about Uber’s ability to fairly compensate drivers, as well the company’s place alongside traditional mass transportation services. The immediate parallel is a bus, but Uber says it doesn’t see it that way.
“We don’t think that this is at all like a bus,” Stock said in a call with reporters earlier this week, according to the Washington Post. “Three of the fundamental things about how buses work is they have fixed pickup and drop-off spots, a fixed route and a fixed time schedule that they’re operating on. Everything about the Express Pool product is dynamic.”