Uber Express Pool lets riders wait, walk for cheaper fares

Uber started out as a ride-sharing service but has quickly turned more into a ride-hailing, pseudo-chauffeur business. UberPool (optionally) brought the service back to what ride-sharing is really about, ferrying multiple passengers on a single trip. Given how Uber works, however, that has been a hassle for both drivers and riders because of the unpredictability and inconsistency. Now Uber is introducing Express Pool which aims to fix that, dangling lower prices in exchange for making riders wait and walk a block or two.

In its pure, theoretical form, ride sharing is about taking on passengers that are on the same route as you. The goal is to reduce the number of cars on the road, offer the semblance of privacy for riders, and help drivers earn something in exchange. The way services like Uber and Grab have turned out, however, it has practically become more like hiring a private taxi, with drivers that aren't really going anywhere other than where riders want to go.

Uberpool put an emphasis on actually sharing rides with more than just the driver. But the logistics involved in handling that was more trouble than it was worth. Different passengers would have different destinations. Riders would also have to wait for drivers to navigate to their pickup points.

Express Pool is Uber's fix for that, which is a new type of ride rather than actually fixing how Pool works. Unlike Pool, however, riders will have to wait a bit longer for Uber to pick out a car and then will have to actually walk to a pickup point. They also won't be dropped off at their exact place but somewhere nearby.

The reason for the delay and the walking? Uber's system will actually compute and select rides that are not only en route to a nearby pickup point but will also be passing near your drop off point. This practically means that the driver won't have to go out of the way to pick you up and drop you off. That is, unless you happen to be the original/first passenger.

This definitely puts the "sharing" back in ride-sharing and does come closer to the goal of reducing car volume rather than ironically increase it the way Uber has. Uber's announcement doesn't mention that Express Pool rates will be significantly lower than even Pool rates, to make up for the waiting and the walking. Hopefully, that will be enough to convince Uberpool users to switch to a more economical, though more inconvenient, method.