Ride-sharing service Uber will start offering Miami customers next week a chance to knock 25 to 50 percent of their fares by traveling with another passenger headed in the same direction.
The new service, UberPool, will debut on Nov. 19. Initially it will be available only in Miami, Miami Beach and parts of Coral Gables. Eventually the company plans to expand it through its entire South Florida operational area, including Broward and Palm Beach.
“It’s a way to help relieve some of the congestion on Miami streets, and save customers some money at the same time,” said Kasra Moshkani, Uber’s South Florida general manager. “Anybody who’s been out on I-95 or 836 at rush hour knows how many cars are out there. This is a way to cut back.”
Customers who are summoning a car by clicking on the Uber app on their cellphones will now see an option to use UberPool. If they choose it, Uber’s software will match them up with another nearby passenger traveling to the same area. And the software will have plenty of choices, Moshkani said.
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“We noticed a long time ago that for almost every customer calling for a car, there was what we call a look-alike trip nearby at the same time,” he said. “It was a logical fit and it just requires an extra couple of minutes of the customer’s time.”
Miami is the eighth U.S. city to add UberPool, which started out in San Francisco a little over a year ago and has been successful everywhere else it’s been tried — partly because of the reduced fares, partly because a lot of customers like the social aspects of sharing a ride.
In some cases, they really like it: “It’s speed-dating on demand, and the people doing it say it’s better than Tinder,” noted the popular Silicon Valley website Re/code.com. One particularly enthusiastic pair of San Francisco customers even got married after meeting in an Uber back seat.
Nonetheless, there are enough hazards — tardiness at the pickup point, overripe post-gym aromas — that the company publishes a guide to UberPool etiquette. (“Consider chatting about the weather or your favorite sandwich, but perhaps avoid any heated political debate.”)
Uber, which began operating in Miami-Dade County in June 2014, remains technically illegal in the eyes of local authorities, though enforcement attempts have practically ceased and Mayor Carlos Gimenez says he expects the county to work out a legal operating agreement by the end of the year. Broward and Palm Beach counties last summer both revised their laws to make room for Uber and other ride-sharing companies.