- Following pilot programs in San Francisco and Boston, Uber officially announced its Uber Express Pool launch in six new markets: Denver, San Diego, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.
- When users select "Express Pool" for a ride, they'll be asked to wait for the app to identify a pick-up spot (based on where drivers are on the route) and walk to the selected spot. The driver will then end the ride at an efficient drop-off spot, which could potentially be a short walk from the final destination.
- Uber reports that the Express Pool rides are "always" less expensive than typical Pool rides, which are already a few dollars cheaper than the commonly-used UberX service.
As unique shared mobility services are rolled out in large metropolitan areas, transportation giants such as Uber are working aggressively to develop new offerings and keep up with the pace. Earlier this year, Uber partnered with Jump Bike to enter the dockless bike-sharing market, and the company has also teased enticing progress in developing "flying taxis."
Uber Express Pool, though less exciting than a flying vehicle, is another way Uber is working to stay competitive in the industry. The new service nearly mimics Via's existing ride-share model — on-demand transit that picks up and drops off riders along a fixed route — and by offering the most affordable costs possible, Express Pool may give Via a run for its money.
Some media outlets, however, have criticized the service's inconvenience created by the walking and waiting, suggesting it's easier to just take a bus. When asked how Uber is combating this attitude, the company touted its ability to offer a "dynamic" experience.
"If you think about a bus, it picks up at the same spot at the same time every day. Then you take the same route, and get dropped off at the same spot — the entire experience is fixed. With Express POOL, the entire experience is dynamic — from how long you may wait upfront, to who you’re matched with, to what corner you walk to/from. We know riders have choices. For some riders it may make sense to take public transit. For other riders who maybe don't live as close to a public transit spot, it may make sense for them to use Express POOL," an Uber spokesperson told Smart Cities Dive.
More importantly, Uber's newest offering is a way for city dwellers to be less dependent on personal car ownership, according to the spokesperson. Earlier this month, Uber was one of 15 mobility companies to sign the Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities, a pledge to prioritize people over vehicles and support shared mobility options. Uber Express Pool is exemplary of this pledge, and it is likely Uber will continue to roll out services that slowly eliminate the need for personal vehicles.