In the ongoing war between Uber, Lyft, and all of the other me-too ride-sharing services, competitors are looking for any way they can better utilize their supply of drivers and reduce costs for their riders. Today, Uber is announcing UberPool, a new feature that will let you pick up other riders on the way to your destination and split the bill.
While the feature should do a lot to cut costs for passengers, not everyone will want to ride with a stranger in addition to the driver picking them up; Uber notes that the new feature also serves as a kind of “social experiment.”
Since there’s not much data about how people will react to the new service, Uber isn’t going to release UberPool across every market it serves. The company has begun rolling out a private beta, and starting August 15 a public beta will launch in the San Francisco Bay Area. Uber also notes that the company’s “friends at Google” will be joining the beta as early adopters, as they “share [Uber's] vision of a more energy-efficient world with less traffic congestion and pollution in our cities and are excited to be early adopters of UberPool.” This signals continued cooperation between the companies following Google integrating Uber into Google Maps for iOS and Android.
Getting more riders into a single car to make rides cheaper isn’t exactly a novel idea. In June we covered Hitch, a ride-sharing service whose biggest differentiator from Uber and Lyft was the fact that it tries to use software to maximize the number of passengers in a single car to increase driver utilization and reduce prices for riders.