What is UberPool?
Remember back in the 80s and 90s when HOV lanes started popping up in large cities, the proposed solution to traffic congestion and air pollution? Well, think of UberPool as Uber’s version of that.
Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, described Uberpool as the way to “cut congestion, pollution, and parking by getting more people into fewer cars.” As the self-proclaimed future of transportation, Uber is attempting to make even greater strides in the way it changes riding and driving for people all over the world.
Uber’s carpooling service, UberPool, and Lyft’s comparable service, Lyft Line, are gaining popularity among drivers and riders. But maybe you haven’t quite figured this whole thing out yet and have questions. Have no fear, we’re here to answer your questions and let you know exactly how you can take advantage of these services if you so choose.
What It Means For Your Drive or Ride
First, let’s talk about the simple logistics of how UberPool (or Lyft Line) works in comparison with the traditional service of UberX or Lyft.
If you’re wondering if UberPool is optional for you like it is for riders, the answer is no. You will get pinged for UberPool rides and UberX rides regardless of your preference.
Now, you’re certainly welcome to decline an UberPool request. You just need to weigh the consequences of that. Uber no longer deactivates drivers with low acceptance rates, but they do give “time-outs” if you ignore a few consecutive requests. I don’t know that it’s worth it to lose money and opportunity simply to avoid UberPool, but that’s your call.
This means that if you accept a rider using UberPool, you may be pinged with a ride request while already in the process of picking up or driving that passenger to his/her destination. Uber has a helpful video for drivers that explains exactly how this ends up working.
You can accept or decline this offer – it is up to you. If you decline, know that it may affect your acceptance ratings. If you accept, be sure to explain to your current passenger that you are picking up an additional passenger and may add a few extra minutes to their commute.
You now have the option of requesting a shared ride using the UberPool service (if it’s available in your city) for a discounted rate. This discount is anywhere from 20 to 60% less than a regular ride, depending on surge. There is a limit of 2 riders.
A few things to know:
- Passengers are not dropped off in order of pick up, so you may not be dropped off first, even if you were picked up first. Instead, the most expedient route will be used for all passengers.
- Your app will show you the locations of other riders, pick up, and drop off locations. Uber’s goal is to match riders based on proximity, so you should never go too far out of your way.
- As a courtesy to other riders, drivers will only wait for 2 minutes before moving on. Please be sure you are ready and waiting when they arrive.
- Because other riders are involved, and you are being charged a guaranteed fare, you cannot change your destination once your ride is accepted.
If time is a factor at all, it is recommended that get an UberX ride instead.
For both drivers and riders, Lyft Line works similarly, although Lyft Line claims up to a 60% discount for passengers, which is more than Uber. We’ll get into the potential cost benefits of carpooling during ridesharing soon.
When Does UberPool Work Best For Both Drivers and Passengers
The best times to use UberPool are during surge pricing or during a launch period in your city. When prices surge, you get paid more, and that doesn’t change with UberPool. In fact, you end up making more during surge pricing, because Uber or Lyft are still paying you surge rates, but charging riders less, especially during a launch period.
When services launch in a new city, UberPool and Lyft Line both have a period of heavily discounted flat rates to make the service more appealing to newcomers. However, rates for drivers do not change, and still go up during surges. This means you’re making more than you normally would.
This again depends on how important time is. If you’re not concerned about adding some extra time, this is a great option.
How Does Pricing Work?
This is one of the biggest questions people have, and I’m not gonna lie, the answer is complex. You can find a really detailed post over at The Rideshare Guy’s blog. But if you’re just looking for the short answer, here it is.
Basically, Uber’s algorithm calculates a price based on distance, estimated trip time, and time of day (surge or non-surge). With UberPool, added into the calculation is likelihood of being matched with second or third passenger, so the best time to use UberPool or Lyft Line is often during these surge times (or Prime Time with Lyft Line).
One major price advantage is the guaranteed fare that you receive. Unlike with UberX, where you receive an estimated fare before your trip, UberPool gives you a guaranteed fare. So you’ll know how much you’ll pay from the get-go.
UberPool pricing experiences surge just like UberX. However, the higher the demand for rides, the greater the discounts for riders willing to share, because there is a higher likelihood of being matched with more passengers along the way. That’s the long and short of it.
Many out there have claimed that UberPool and Lyft Line are little extra pay for a lot of extra work. Here’s why.
As Uber puts it, drivers make more money when they use UberPool, because they now get paid for extra driving it takes to pick up and drop off a second passenger, money they wouldn’t earn if driving the two passengers separately. See the below picture for an example.
But here’s the catch. While you are being paid for extra mileage, you are also taking on the additional task of accepting more riders as you drive. This may seem simple but if you think of all that is entailed in picking up and dropping off one rider, and then add in unexpected additional riders at random times, it adds some complexity to your drive.
It is also true that in some places drivers are paid a slightly lower rate for an UberPool ride than for an UberX ride.
However, for many people, when you consider the time spent between riders waiting for a ping while using UberX, versus using that time making money while picking up multiple passengers using UberPool, the extra effort can be worth it.
You can see this post for some helpful tips on how to best utilize UberPool to your advantage as a driver.
A Few Important Tips
There are several things to keep in mind as you begin using UberPool.
- Riders may be new to the experience. Make sure you explain things to them before you begin driving. If they accidentally chose UberPool or Lyft Line, or aren’t ok with the extra time, you can cancel their ride. This can prevent unnecessary frustration.
- Avoid picking up riders with lower ratings. Uber no longer deactivates drivers for low acceptance ratings, so don’t be afraid to decline a rider who doesn’t have high ratings. The last thing you want is to make the ride-sharing unbearable for your other passengers.
- When you reach a pick-up location you wait one minute before calling the rider. Then wait one more before cancelling. Riders know that there is a two minute waiting period. Don’t make your current passengers angry by waiting longer than you need to for others.
- Be patient and kind. Seems simple enough, but it would be easy to grow frustrated by UberPool, especially if you are accustomed to UberX rides. The ride is easier for everyone if all passengers are easy-going. Contribute to that.
- If you’re on the fence, request an UberX instead. Uber’s app will then automatically show you the difference in price between UberX and UberPool, and offer you the option of switching to UberPool. Then you’ll know if the difference in price is worth it to you.
Although UberPool and Lyft Line have a few kinks to work out, they are most certainly the future of ridesharing. With reduced cost and reduced impact on the environment and on traffic congestion, the benefits outweigh the costs.
The best thing you can do is figure out how to use this service to the best of your ability, especially as a driver.