A cheaper version of Uber POOL will launch Thursday in Miami, with the goal of turning Uber into an everyday transportation option.
The new version, called Express POOL, will be the cheapest option yet among Uber’s offerings for hailing a pickup. It will cost up to 50 percent less than Uber POOL and up to 75 percent less than UberX. There will be no minimum fare, and the usual booking fee will be built into the upfront Express fare. Uber currently charges $0.10 per minute and $0.81 per mile in South Florida.
The catch: Unlike a regular Uber POOL, which picks up and drops off passengers wherever they happen to be located, an Express will calculate pickup and drop-off points that are mutually convenient to the rider and driver alike.
That means riders will have to do a bit of extra walking, as well as possibly more waiting, to catch their ride as Uber tries to match them with other nearby passengers. Prices will vary depending on time of day, and Express will not be immune from surge pricing.
The idea of Express is to eliminate the often maze-like path traditional Uber POOLs can take as drivers make their way to new passengers, Uber says.
“People love the price [of regular Uber POOL], but have mixed feelings about the experience,” Uber lead project manager Ethan Stock said in a press call Tuesday.
Miami was chosen among the latest crop of launch cities, which also include Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, because Uber POOL is already highly popular with Miami riders, Uber rep Javi Correoso said in an email. Express POOL has already been pilot-tested in Boston and San Francisco.
Uber drivers can expect to earn the same amount as they normally would on a regular Uber POOL pickup, and Uber officials are hoping Express POOL will make the POOL experience better for them, too. Like the traditional POOL, drivers will have the option of adding new passengers after their first pickup — they just won’t have to go as far out of their way as the current POOL option often forces them to do.
Longer term, Stock said, Uber wants Express to turn into a multi-day, multi-use option for people with limited or incomplete public transportation options.
“We’re trying to get more people into less vehicles,” he said.
For now, Express POOL will not be available for trips leaving from Miami International Airport, although you’ll be able to use the service to get to MIA.
Lyft is currently working on a similar product, called Lyft Shuttle, that has so far only been rolled out in San Francisco and Chicago.
Ride-share expert Harry Campbell, who blogs at TheRideShareGuy.com, discussed Express earlier this year as it was being tested in San Francisco.
“If this seems a lot like a bus pickup, it’s because that’s definitely the direction Uber and Lyft are heading,” he wrote.