In an attempt to reduce the cost of hiring an Uber driver by half, Uber has launched the UberPool carpooling service in private beta. Eventually launching to all Uber users around the United States, the mobile application will automatically match you up with another Uber user that’s going in the same general direction. Detailed on the official Uber blog, the application will notify you of the other passenger’s name and also identify which passenger will be picked up first. At the end of the trip, the total cost of the ride will be split between the two passengers automatically.
Perhaps limited to the initial beta period of UberPool, users that opt-in to the carpooling service will receive a discount on the ride if a match cannot be located. Detailed within the post, an Uber representative admits there are multiple questions about the effectiveness of the new option.
The post reads “This is also a bold social experiment. 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? We’re going to find out how this brave new world of UberPooling works.”
Uber users will be able to find the new option within the app near options like UberX and UberSUV. For the moment, the beta is being limited to a section of San Francisco. However, Uber plans to expand into new geographic areas after August 15. Users can also sign up on the blog post to be notified when the service launches in their area.
Of course, the effectiveness of UberPool will be completely dependent on the willingness of Uber users to ride with a complete stranger. Both positive and negative experiences are likely to spring up from the new feature. Hypothetically, Uber could add an approval function down the line, basically allowing users to approve the rideshare after a match is made. A chat function would also be helpful for strangers to break the ice and talk about their destinations.