“I want to run the bus systems for a city,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at a Goldman Sachs conference in San Francisco. He wants Uber vehicles to be even more involved in connecting users to parts of cities.
In line with its mission of becoming a service that works for everybody, Uber launched its new service on Wednesday – it’s low-cost carpool service called Express Pool.
Typically, an Uber booking gets the driver to come to you. With Express Pool, you walk to meet the driver at a specific location or pickup point. In places like San Francisco and Washington, where one-way streets can often send cars off course, Uber says a walk down the block could save riders and drivers time and hassle.
One Express Pool carpool can accommodate only three people for now. You’ll actually be in a car, driven by an Uber driver. “When you request, we say hang tight … while we figure out who your co-riders are,” said Ethan Stock, Director of Shared Rides at Uber. Then, “we’re asking you to walk about a block and a half from your house to a street corner. Cities aren’t going to work if everyone is trying to take an UberX. It’s inefficient in how city infrastructure is used.”
The company hopes Express Pool will help it gain even more customers. The idea is to win over new customers with a cheaper fare and keep existing customers with a more efficient system. “The mission is to make it possible for everyone to experience the magic of Uber every day,” Stock said. “And make it affordable to new riders.”
Uber already has a low-cost service called Pool, which it launched in August 2014. Pool is now in 36 cities worldwide and has given over 1 billion rides. It’s basically a carpool service that lets strangers catch a ride together along a similar route. Express Pool is pretty much the same, Uber says, but is more efficient because riders walk to a spot along a common route, rather than having a driver circle around.