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Uber Launches 'Express Pool' To Get More Riders To Share Rides ( 63

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Uber is beginning to roll out a cheaper version of its ride-sharing UberPool service, called Express Pool. The service, which was being tested in Boston and San Francisco, is now available in Los Angeles, San Diego and Denver, and will launch in Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., tomorrow. The idea is that Express Pool, which requires riders to walk a little to meet their driver -- and then again to their destination after being dropped off -- will make shared rides more efficient. If it works, it should both increase the number of rides that drivers can give and also make those shared trips faster for passengers. The new service tests a thesis Uber has long had: Lower prices means higher utilization, and higher utilization means more money -- both for drivers and for Uber. Also that road congestion is bad and the solution is to share more rides. Those are the same theories that sparked the creation of the original UberPool service, which requires a little less walking. But the hope is that this will make it easier to match more passengers and therefore lose less money on each shared ride.
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Uber Launches 'Express Pool' To Get More Riders To Share Rides

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    What a bus does?

    • by be951 ( 772934 )
      I don't think so. At least, I've never seen a bus schedule where the times where "whenever you need to be picked up" and the routes are "anywhere you happen to be" to "wherever it is you want to go" with no stops in between.
      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

        Neither is this. Its "walk to the pickup point", "wait for the other riders", "get dropped off after stopping for the other riders to get let off"

  • by sasparillascott ( 1267058 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @09:09AM (#56168961)
    JMHO, but if folks wanted to take the bus (walking to & from the bus stop), they'd take the bus. A big part of the reason Uber and Lyft are so successful is the pick you up at the door and drop you off at the door service - not to mention the low price of the ride (we'll see if that can be maintained after going public and they can't bleed money in huge amounts anymore).
    • There are no buses in the US.
      • The last one was retired in 1974. We only use personal cars in the US.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        There, of course, are, but they refuse to implement a thing known as a "schedule." I live near a bus stop where the buses run "every 10 minutes" and I've seen - and I'm not kidding here - three buses show up a half hour after I arrived at the stop. I guess that's technically an average of one bus every 10 minutes, but - c'mon.

        The reason Uber's plan could work when buses (at least in the US) wouldn't is because of crap like that. The bus routes are also incredibly stupid, with basically no "hub" routes, mean

    • Not having to interact with anyone is worth some cash.

    • People use Uber for convenience; if walking two blocks to streamline the driver's flow they reduce their own cost, time lag, and overall congestion, it is a net benefit.

      The challenge I would expect though is moving enough seats in a single vehicle along a mutually beneficial path. I am sure they have the data to say that it would work in the places they are starting it.

      A bus has the downside of a fixed route, schedule and frequency, limited flexibility for maximizing utilization for changing traffic vector

    • Buses run on loose schedules so you can stand for 10 minutes or risk waiting 30 for the next one. As to walking part of the way, if you know your trip you can plan it out: walk past nasty traffic, get picked up, drop off early if there's nasty traffic: drop me off here please.

    • Except buses aren't on demand often infrequent and even more often stop at many other places you're not interested in going detouring from a far more efficient route.

      Comparing car pooling to catching a bus is silly.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "cheaper version of its ride-sharing UberPool service"

    this has nothing to do with making the service cheaper. it's all about raising the price of the more premium product.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      Exactly. It's like me showing up at work at 10 am, doing half the work and telling the boss this is my new, lower cost labor service. If he would like to continue enjoying the same old labor service, the new price is 20% more than the old price.

      • Exactly. It's like me showing up at work at 10 am, doing half the work and telling the boss this is my new, lower cost labor service. If he would like to continue enjoying the same old labor service, the new price is 20% more than the old price.

        Uber is going to have to do this at some point. They can't take a 40% loss on every ride forever. Either the price will have to go up, or the costs will have to go down. They already squeeze their drivers to the point that it's barely worth it to drive for them. I know they are supposedly going to go to self-driving cars. But let's be realistic; those are at least a decade away from actually replacing human drivers. I am interested to see if Uber will be as attractive to people if the price increases

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I suspect they will be able to get away with at least a 25% price hike because they already vary prices. I don't think I've paid a consistent price for the same ride from my house to the airport. Some some aspect of a price increase, especially over a period of months will just be invisible unless you're a real regular off-peak Uber rider.

          I also think the utility value of ordering up a ride and actually getting it within about 10 minutes is as valuable as the ride itself. Before Uber, calling an actual

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Half of my fun on these rides is talking gender politics with the drivers. They have to speak English well enough. They tend to be less east-coast college liberal than my work colleagues, and their much closer relationship with reality and having a real job is.... well, it's refreshing. And the foreign drivers from poorer countries, working essentially as refugees, are just *amazed* at the things Americans get up to.

    And the Brazilians are great. They just wonder why we worry so much about it: here, they're

  • by Digital Mage ( 124845 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @09:37AM (#56169027)

    Uber is a taxi service plain and simple. Unless you, the driver and fellow passengers are actually splitting the cost of the trip equally it is not ride's hiring a driver to take you somewhere.

    • by be951 ( 772934 )
      I believe in this case, the "ride sharing" refers to two or more separate Uber riders/customers sharing the trip. Hence, actual ride sharing by users from Uber, the "ride hailing" service provider. I think they've had the "pool" option for a while now, where multiple riders pay 60-70% of a single rider fare to share the Uber with a stranger when there are getting picked up and dropped off in fairly close proximity. Presumably, Uber found that a lot of the additional cost/lag of taking multiple customers at
      • by eepok ( 545733 )
        It's better in this case, but the word "rideshare" had already been used for decades by the federal government and the Transportation Demand Management industry as a blanket reference to carpool, vanpool, bus, train, and (at times) travel by bike and by foot. Uber and Lyft knew this and co-opted the name to make themselves seem "green" when using their service for a single passenger is literally worse than driving somewhere alone. []
    • it's hiring a driver to take you somewhere.

      Yes it is. But that doesn't make it a taxi. It makes it a private car for hire, which is not regulated the same as a taxi. It should be regulated like limos.

    • You can't hail an Uber: not a taxi. You can book an Uber: basically a low cost limo.

  • It won't work because I need to drive 300 miles each way every day to the middle of a forest where there are no roads. Stupid Uber! What are they thinking???
  • by pem ( 1013437 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @10:12AM (#56169163)
    You've reinvented the jitney.
  • The difference is, it's funded by venture capital rather than taxes! (Until the venture capital runs out)

  • If I wanted to walk I would walk.
  • Bleeding cash, and in some areas having to stop UberPop since people have (finally) realized they can't make money doing it. []

    I don't believe the BS from the boss recently that they could somehow magically "tweak the knobs" and turn an annual cash burn of billions into profit. Launching another "even lower cost" service; how's that gonna help?

    Note to boss: stop throwing away cash on self-driving cars that Google & others will do certainly do better, and strip your costs t

    • They have no choice. As you state: "How many people does it take to run the cloud service?" If they are not doing something to lay a path beyond just a cloud service that is easy relatively easy to replicate they will stop getting investments and their whole little house of cards will fall apart.

      For now they need the dog and pony show to go on to keep money coming in to allow them to continue to buy market share by subsidizing rides below cost (despite awful net wages for the drivers).

      I give them about 12

  • This would work great up here in Alaska. No real competition and a huge pool of potential users.

  • And, and, maybe they can get the Uber drivers to get really large vans; and paint them in striking color schemes to make them easier to spot; and maybe run on a circular route on a schedule so people wouldn't have to book the Uber ride ahead of time, but just get on and pay.

    Oh Wait.....

I just asked myself... what would John DeLorean do? -- Raoul Duke