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When you need a ride, but are on a budget, a comfortable Uber ride doesn’t have to be out of the picture. Ridesharing alone may not be the most affordable mode of transportation, but UberPool makes it easy to share your trip with other users along your route.
If you’re not opposed to riding with strangers — much like you would on a bus — UberPool can offer you great prices for a reliable ride that meets all of Uber’s standards. Instead of having to form your own carpool, you can simply whip out your smartphone and use Uber to request one at any time of the day.
This definitive guide to UberPool will explain how UberPool works and how you can use it to cut costs on your next ride.
- What Is UberPool?
- How UberPool Pricing Works
- UberPool vs. Uber Express Pool
- UberPool vs. Public Transit
- How to Request an UberPool Ride
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is UberPool?
UberPool is an on-demand shared ride service that connects you to a driver, in addition to other riders who are headed in the same direction as you. Along your route, your driver may stop to drop off your co-riders or pick up additional riders. This may add some extra time to your trip, compared to a typical private ride, but you can still expect to get to your destination by the estimated time of arrival that’s provided before you request.
When you book an UberPool, you can only reserve up to two seats, regardless of whether you’re matched with a sedan or an SUV. This way, there’s always room for more people to join your route. Sometimes, when demand is low, you may luck out with a full ride to yourself.
Other than the extra detours and people joining your vehicle, your experience will be much like an UberX ride. You’ll typically be matched with basic (though well-maintained) car models and drivers who meet minimum requirements.
How UberPool Pricing Works
Just like any other Uber ride type, UberPool prices are upfront and based on the same set of factors. However, UberPool prices are always cheaper than the company’s private ride services — even UberX — in any given market.
Your exact rates will vary by city, but here’s a look at current rates in Washington, D.C. (as of June 2020) so you have an idea of what Uber fares to expect:
- Base fare: $1.22
- Per-minute rate: 26 cents
- Per-mile rate: 81 cents
- Booking fee: $2.80
- Minimum fare: $7.84
- Rider no-show fee: $5.25
- Cancellation fee: $3.25
The biggest difference to be aware of when taking UberPool rides is the fact that your driver will only wait at your pick-up location for two minutes (instead of the typical five), so you will be charged a no-show fee earlier than normal.
UberPool vs. Uber Express Pool
In some cities, you may notice a ride option called “Express Pool” in addition to the traditional UberPool. Express Pool is the only service that’s cheaper than UberPool because it reduces your time in the vehicle and increases your time spent walking.
While UberPool will sometimes add significant detours to get right to your requested pick-up point and destination, Express Pool prioritizes traveling in straight, clear paths like a bus line. With Express Pool, you’re picked up and dropped off at points along the set route, instead of exactly where you’re located or headed.
Express Pool typically adds about one or two blocks to your walk, which is usually no more than five extra minutes of walking time on top of what you’d experience with UberPool. The exact price difference can vary by city, but is often worth it if you’re not short on time.
UberPool vs. Public Transit
While the UberPool experience may be less desirable than Uber’s many private ride options, its benefits do beat public transportation by a long shot.
UberPool rides tend to be far more reliable, with drivers arriving on time and dropping you off within a designated time frame. Plus, you’re never tied to set routes, so if your destination is a long walk away from the nearest bus stop or subway station, UberPool can easily cut your travel times.
Ridesharing also tends to be safer than your average public transit experience. The Uber app provides a handful of personalized safety features, like route sharing and an emergency button that sends your trip information directly to dispatchers if you tap “Call 911.” While your fellow riders don’t have to pass background checks, Uber will always have a record of their payment details in case anything goes wrong.
On top of this, UberPool vehicles are typically well-maintained and much cleaner than buses and subways.
With fewer co-riders, guaranteed seats, and personable service from your driver, UberPool will connect you to the most comfortable ride experience possible at its low price range.
How to Request an UberPool Ride
Requesting an UberPool ride is just like requesting any other ride type on the app, but if you’re brand new to Uber, you’ll need to start by setting up your account.
Start by downloading the Uber app onto your iPhone or Android and tapping “Register” upon opening the platform. Then, follow the prompts to provide requested information — including your full name and contact information — and verify your phone number and email.
You’ll then be prompted to enter your desired payment method, which can always be updated in the “Wallet” section of your app.
Once your account is fully set up, follow these steps to request your UberPool ride:
- Tap the “Where to?” bar to enter your pick-up and drop-off locations.
- Select “UberPool.”
- Review your ride price, estimated drop-off time (this is usually a range for Pool rides), and payment method. Then, tap “Confirm UberPool” to complete your request and get matched with an Uber driver.
Frequently Asked Questions
Taking an UberPool ride is a great way to get to your destination without spending more than you need to. For more information about this Uber service, read our answers to these frequently asked questions:
How do I know if UberPool is available in my city?
To find out if UberPool is available in your city, just select your market from this Uber cities page and scroll down to the “[City Name]: choose a ride” section. You’ll see UberPool listed if the service can be requested in your area. You may need to tap the right arrow to see the service listed.
UberPool is mainly available in larger cities, where demand is high enough to support shared rides on a single route, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see the option outside of major metropolitan areas like San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami.
UberPool may be temporarily unavailable in cities affected by coronavirus.
Can I bring my bags or luggage when taking an UberPool ride?
Personal bags are always allowed on UberPool rides, but there’s no guarantee that there will be room for your luggage or particularly large bags.
It is possible that previous riders will have filled up the trunk, and since you can’t take up extra seats since new riders may join your trip, you do risk having to cancel and request another ride. It’s always recommended to request an UberX ride instead if you’re bringing your luggage along.
Does Lyft offer a service like UberPool?
Yes. The rideshare company offers Lyft Shared (formerly known as Lyft Line), which works exactly like UberPool. Some Lyft cities even offer a service called Shared Saver, which is the Lyft version of Uber Express Pool.
Will Surge Pricing Still Apply to UberPOOL?
Yes, the price for UberPOOL service is linked to uberX pricing. The surge rate multiplier that gets added to the first rider gets added to secondary riders, too.
On that note, the fare for UberPOOL will always be more affordable, because the possibility of a secondary trip is taken into account. For drivers, the calculation of payment differs compared to uberX. Discounts for riders are offered to convince more riders to take shared trips.
How Many Passengers are Allowed?
As of this moment, the app only accepts two people per pickup point, for a vehicle total of four passengers. For more than two passengers per pickup location, book an uberX or uberXL instead. Riders are informed of this policy when they sign up and request the ride.
How Do Secondary Trips Work?
Secondary UberPOOL trips appear automatically once another person requests a shared ride en route. The Uber app does not require permission from the first passenger to accept another ride. Instead, UberPOOL automatically updates the route in the map for a more efficient pick-up and drop-off.
Can You Still Change the Pickup Location or Destination?
Updating the trip location is not possible once an UberPOOL trip has started. The app uses the original pickup and drop-off locations to match with other riders heading towards the same destination. If a rider requests a destination change, the driver reserves the right to cancel the trip.
How does the drop-off order work? Can I be dropped off first if I was picked up first?
The order of drop off doesn’t necessarily follow the order of pick up. It depends on where each of the rider’s destination falls along the route. If the second passenger’s destination comes before yours, they will be dropped off first. The driver doesn’t get to pick the order of the drop-off. The app automatically shows them the most efficient pickup and drop off sequence.
Save by Sharing
UberPool makes it easy to cut the cost of comfortable, reliable rides just by sharing your trip with a few extra riders. You no longer have to find your own carpooling group for your commutes or rent your own car when you’re on vacation to get affordable rides when you need them.
With UberPool, transportation has become far more accessible around the world, especially for those who live or work further away from public transit lines.
However, if you want to avoid surge pricing and sometimes even get flat rates for your shared rides, Via is the Uber and Lyft alternative you want to consider. Read our guide to Via, the rideshare service that makes carpool-style trips central to the app.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.