Uber has launched a carpooling feature for drivers called uberCOMMUTE. The new service is being piloted in China first, where the company will presumably gather data about its usage and make adjustments as necessary. Says the ridesharing company, this is the first time it has launched a global product outside of the US; the feature has arrived in Chengdu, China. It is unclear when it will be available to drivers in other cities and countries.
UberCOMMUTE works by allowing drivers who are already heading somewhere to see any potential riders who are also going the same direction. If the driver finds someone suitable, they can grab that rider on the way to their destination and make a little cash doing so.
There are a few different potential benefits to this: for one thing, the driver can cover the cost of the gas used to travel to wherever it is he or she is planning to go (and maybe a little more on top). If you’re on your way to a party, for example, why not grab someone who is going to the same neighborhood and pocket a few bucks?
It has a bigger potential effect on the surrounding community, as well. Drivers who take advantage of the carpool feature will help keep city congestion down by putting the spare seats in their car to good use. The number of cars on the road will be smaller as a result, less gas will be used, and more.