Uber's Express POOL Debuts in Denver

Modern transportation company pilots latest offering, eliminating door-to-door service, but reducing price tag

Denver is one of six cities piloting Uber Technologies Inc.'s latest carpool offering, "Express POOL," with 50 percent to 70 percent price-cuts for users willing walk a short, one- to two-block, distance.

The goal is to "transform cities [and] make them work for the better," says Ethan Stock, Uber's director of product, adding the company aims to instill a "high level of confidence and consistency," with its service offerings.

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing company launched its latest product, "Express POOL," in Denver Wednesday, Feb. 21 along with a handful of cities throughout the country, including Miami and San Diego. Its traditional selection offers door-to-door service, while the existing UberPOOL, launched in 2014, groups riders in close proximity who are traveling in the same rough direction. 

Offering flexibility in routes and timing, the Express POOL has been tested in San Francisco and Boston since late 2017, batching riders by time, location and destination.

Thus far, "There are no specific driver complaints to report," says Stephanie Sedlak, communications lead for the southwest region of Uber. "While the metrics from the pilots are competitively sensitive, we see riders not only choosing this product, but coming back and using it again and again. In our two pilot cities, on trip time and total trip time (once car is dispatched through drop-off) are both less with express pool than with POOL. There's also less backtracking than POOL."

"People are finding that trips are shorter and the ride feels straighter and higher quality," Stock says. "There will be minimal stops and detours because we've done our homework and matched you with other riders so that you're going similar directions," he explained.

Uber's new addition to the platform solves a "gigantic math problem," in responding to multiple riders and destinations in real-time.

The catch is riders will need to wait a few minutes to learn their pickup time, and then walk a block or two to the pickup point. At the other end of their trip, riders will have a few blocks to walk from the drop-off point to their final destination.

"Getting multiple riders into the car at the same time is how we can save money," Stock says. "Reducing congestion and pollution is key to our long-term success."

Sedlak says scaling affordable and reliable mobility is a high priority for the company that can "complement existing transportation options in the cities they operate. In fact, we often see Uber being used together with RTD's light rail and bus routes."

Categories: Tech