Uber suspended its shared rides service — Uber Pool — in the early months of the pandemic as a safety measure. But the company has now relaunched the feature under a new name, UberX Share, which is available starting today in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Portland, Oregon, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. This formal launch follows a quieter debut back in November, when it was available only in Miami as part of a pilot test.
The new shared rides feature is similar to Uber’s pre-pandemic carpooling feature, but with an added cash incentive. Riders who select UberX Share will be matched with another co-rider who is headed in the same direction. In exchange for the hassle and extra time spent on the road, Uber will give riders up to a 20 percent discount on the total fare. Even if riders don’t get matched with a co-rider, they’ll receive an up-front discount on their ride that varies in the amount. Fares for UberX Share will always be lower than a equivalent UberX ride.
One downside of Uber’s carpool service in the past was that co-riders could end up taking a much longer trip than they expected. The company claims it has updated the service to make sure that UberX Share rides are no more than eight minutes longer than an equivalent solo ride.
UberX Share is likely to be appealing for budget-conscious riders, especially if it’s a short or non-urgent trip. But the feature posed problems for drivers in the past, who reportedly earned less per passenger on shared rides than they made transporting individual passengers. Drivers also have to do the added work of coordinating multiple drop-offs and pick-offs per trip.
The company, for its part, has made several changes this time around that may be more driver-friendly. Unlike Uber Pool, drivers can opt-out of participating in Uber X Share. Additionally, passengers can only request UberX Share rides for themselves, and only one other co-rider can join per trip. Uber Pool gave riders the option of booking up to two seats, and during very busy times could match drivers with more than one co-rider. The new changes will likely create a less hectic shared ride experience for everyone.