Uber Launches 'Express Pool' to Conquer the Commute

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The company says Express Pool will be up to 50 percent cheaper than Pool and up to 75 percent cheaper than UberX.

Yes, walking two whole blocks sounds like a lot of effort for a service that's all about convenience.

Two years ago, nearly to the day, Uber introduced to Philadelphia what was then a new concept: a pool service that allowed riders to share a trip with strangers heading their way for a reduced fare. The new service will ask passengers to wait a few minutes before being matched with a driver.

Uber Express' concept is reminiscent of a bus.

The Uber app then helps riders with walking directions to their final destination.

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. While it was a big bet at the time, riders have now chosen to share almost a billion rides with POOL. Uber is still betting on a future where vehicle ownership turns into auto pooling.

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For some drivers, UberPool trips are more work than they're worth, Campbell said, in that the fares are the same, sometimes less, for more work. This makes things a little easier for drivers, who don't have to make multiple stops to pick up passengers. And this alternative feels more likely with the cheaper Express Pool service, which, as hordes of snarky internet people pointed out when Lyft launched something similar in June of past year, looks a lot like a bus.

Uber isn't likely to wholesale replace SEPTA buses, said Erick Guerra, assistant professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania, since that would require drivers to have access to vehicles larger than the typical personal vehicle. Express POOL has already been pilot-tested in Boston and San Francisco. Once you're connected with your route, the app will map your walk to meet your driver (probably one or two blocks), who will then pick you up and then drop off a few people on the way before finally leaving you one or two blocks away from your final destination. It allows drivers to take more direct routes, rather than weaving around the city to the doorsteps of each passenger.

The future is looking up for Uber.

UberPool launched in 2014 and accounts for 20 percent of Uber trips in the 36 cities where it's available around the world, Stock said. That's a near-frictionless, efficient way to connect private and public transit, and build a better city for all.

Also, if the ride-sharing service pulls people off mass transit and creates more automobile traffic, that will add to congestion, he said.