Friday, February 23, 2018

Uber Express Pool Expected to be a Cheaper and More Efficient Ride-Sharing Option

Especially in crowded metropolitan areas like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, fewer and fewer people are choosing to drive. Between the cost of gas/maintenance and often the complete inability to find parking anywhere, many would-be drivers opt to use ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft instead. For those who drive long distances on a daily basis, it still makes more sense to own a car, but for those who don't drive often, ride-sharing is the cheaper alternative. The cheapest variation of ride-sharing is UberPool, which lets multiple riders share an Uber and split the cost. According to an L.A. Times article written by Tracey Lien, an even cheaper and more efficient alternative, called Uber Express Pool, is on its way to LA.

Uber Pool, while great in that it can save a rider a few dollars on a trip and can give the driver the ability to pick up more fares in a shorter time, also has its downsides. One of the biggest complaints about the Uber Pool service is that it isn't a very fast way of getting anywhere. Inherently, when you opt to allow the driver to pick up other riders on the way to your destination, there will be a little bit of time added to your commute. However, because of the way Uber Pool is set up, it ends up being even longer, as the driver is directed to strange circuitous routes that the app calculates to "maximize efficiency," but which actually does the exact opposite. Additionally, for people taking a longer distance Uber Pool, the driver may pick up multiple passengers along the way, and then will have to go out of the way to drop them off before ever reaching the original rider's destination.

Uber Express Pool is expected to retain Uber Pool's upsides (especially its lowered prices) with fewer of its drawbacks. Some have compared Express Pool to a bus service in that it has designated pick-up and drop-off locations along routes created at a rider's request. Riders will have to walk a bit to get to where they're going, but this system avoids the wasted time of giving each rider door-to-door service, which makes each ride more efficient. It also allows riders to have a better approximation as to the time frame of their arrival. If the car isn't going off in random directions to pick up extra fares, then it's pretty easy to figure out how long the ride will take, even with multiple stops in the middle.

A somewhat similar system is already in place on several college campuses and airports, but that's more for ease of use and to ease traffic congestion. At those locations, there are designated pick-up and drop-off locations. By having those locations, the schools and airports don't have drivers constantly blocking up traffic, and drivers and riders are more easily able to find each other. When riders used to be able to request a pick-up anywhere on campus, it was often difficult for drivers to find them, as the routes through many college campuses tend to be difficult to navigate for people not accustomed to them. In all, it seems that the updated Express Pool will be beneficial to both riders and drivers, and is, therefore, a positive addition to Uber's array of services.

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