To take advantage of the $5 maximum rates, you have to hail your ride via UberPool and catch your ride at a designated pickup spot. That’s probably not a big deal for many people, as long as you don’t mind sharing your Uber car with others; it is a ride-sharing service, after all. The designated pickup spots will usually be a nearby corner, says Uber, so you won’t have far to walk. And for that matter, it might be a little safer getting in on a corner rather than in traffic lanes right in front of your building, work, or home, where the flow of cars, cabs, buses, and cyclists can get intense.
The $5 fare is the big draw because Uber surge pricing can jump pretty high during rush hour, when the demand for rides exceeds the driver supply. Rush hour, by the way, is 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. No matter how many passengers get in the car, you pay $5 to your destination, even if you end up being the only passenger.
In case you’re wondering if Uber drivers will take a hit with only one, or even two, passengers under this plan, it’s not a problem. Drivers will be paid at surge rates when driving Uberpool passengers, even if there is only one rider.
There is one possible “gotcha” in the plan. When you book a ride via UberPool, you won’t be given an estimated destination arrival time. Once you get in the car, after which there are no refunds, that’s when you’ll learn how long your trip should take and how many other passengers, if any, the driver is going to pick up. Uber is hoping the cost benefits will bring riders, the surge rates will please drivers, and that more people will get where they’re going, via Uber, with less traffic.