Originally appeared on Consumer Affairs
Today, Uber is launching a new spin on its ride-hailing service called Express Pool — a service for passengers who don’t mind commuting with strangers or being picked up and dropped off at specified locations.
The new service lets customers book rides with other passengers heading in the same general direction, making it more efficient by minimizing the number of deviations a driver must make.
In exchange for walking a few blocks to a specified pickup and dropoff location, Express Pool riders can enjoy lower fares. The service’s fares are up to 50 percent cheaper than standard shared Pool rides and up to 75 percent cheaper than UberX fares.
The service is Uber’s first big project in three in a half years and has undergone a lengthy trial period.
Express Pool had been running as a pilot for the past few months in San Francisco and Boston, but today it will roll out in six new cities — Philadelphia, Washington D.C, Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Diego. More cities will be added in the coming months.
Although riders will have to walk to a nearby pickup spot and wait a few minutes prior to the start of the trip, Uber believes these two additional actions will ultimately save drivers and riders time and frustration.
The goal of specified pickup locations is to cut down on travel time and make Uber rides even more efficient than the company’s current UberPool model, in which drivers often find themselves driving in circles to pick up additional passengers.
While Uber’s new service may sound similar to a bus, the company says there are few key differences.
“We don’t think that this is at all like a bus,” said Ethan Stock, Uber’s director of product for shared rides, noting that Express Pool’s routes aren’t set in stone the way bus routes are. Rides are dependent on what riders are requesting in specific areas.
“Three of the fundamental things about how buses work is they have fixed pickup and drop-off spots, a fixed route, and a fixed time schedule that they’re operating on. Everything about the Express Pool product is dynamic.”
Additionally, each five-seat vehicle can only transport a limited number of passengers, unlike a high-capacity bus.