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UberPool: How It Works, Cost, Pricing & More

Last updated: September 2, 2021
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vector graphic showing two uber riders outside of an uberpool vehicle

When you need a ride, but are on a budget, a comfortable Uber ride doesn’t have to be out of the picture.

But sometimes when riders want an Uber ride, they don’t want to pay for higher UberX fares.

That’s where UberPool comes into play.

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.

With UberPool, you can get matched with other passengers going in the same direction you’re going.

Since you’re on the same trip, Uber splits the cost between you and the other riders.

Drivers can pick up multiple riders on these UberPool trips and continue to earn as the daisy-chain of pickups and dropoffs continues.

Let’s dive into all the important UberPool information that you need to know.

What is UberPool?

Uber matches you with other passengers on UberPool trips.

It looks for other riders who have pickups and destinations along the same path as your pickup and destination.

As you ride, your driver will stop to pick up other riders before you reach your destination.

It’s possible to pick up and drop off more than one person between your pick-up and final destinations.

This adds time to your trip, of course.

You’ll see an expected time of arrival in the Uber app before accepting the Uber Pool service.

You might end up on the ride all by yourself if overall demand is low at the time of your trip.

Don’t expect this to happen.

It’s more likely that you’ll share at least one ride with a second passenger.

Know that you can’t reserve more than two seats with UberPool.

That’s to ensure that there’s always room for other riders on these types of Uber rides.

Why is UberPool an Attractive Option?

vector graphic showing two uber riders outside of an uberpool vehicle

The cost of Uber rides is not cheap.

For a passenger, UberPool offers a cheaper alternative to paying for an UberX ride.

For drivers, it can keep you busier than dropping off UberX passengers and waiting for the next trip to start.

UberPool can keep you constantly earning for an hour or longer during peak times.

How Does UberPool Work for Riders?

The concept behind UberPool is that some riders would rather save a little money by sharing their trips with other Uber customers.

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 open the Uber app to request a ride, you’ll see options for UberX and UberPool.

Select the UberPool option to confirm your choice.

Keep in mind that you can’t request UberPool for three or more people.

It only lets you reserve a seat for yourself and one companion.

The app displays your estimated arrival time, as well as when your driver should arrive for the pickup.

How Does UberPool Work for One Rider?

If you’re alone, then request UberPool with one seat.

When your Uber driver arrives, check the interior in case another UberPool passenger is already inside the vehicle.

Choose an empty seat and hop in.

If you end up being the one single rider on your trip because Uber can’t match you with other passengers going in the same direction, then you won a bonus.

You’ll get a private ride at a cheaper UberPool price.

An UberX ride is usually more expensive.

How Does UberPool Work for Two Riders?

If you’re booking a trip for you and a companion, indicate in the app that you need two seats for your UberPool trip.

This ensures that Uber won’t book you with a car where the driver already has too many people in it.

If you make a mistake by booking only one seat, and the driver’s car is already full, the driver will cancel your trip.

Then you can request a different driver and vehicle.

Once you’re in the vehicle, anything can happen.

If you and your companion are the first people in the car, then it’s likely that you’ll pick someone else up before you reach your destination.

Then, you or that new party may reach their destination first.

It all depends on how far each party needs to travel.

How Does UberPool Work for Three Riders?

You can’t book an UberPool for three riders.

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.

If you have three or more people in your party, then you must select UberX so there’s enough room in your driver’s car.

How Does UberPool Work for Drivers?

As a driver, UberPool should help you earn more money.

You earn a little less per UberPool passenger than you do an UberX passenger.

For this reason, some drivers don’t like UberPool.

UberPool can help you earn more if you drive in a busy city such as Los Angeles.

You might pick up one passenger in Santa Monica that wants to go across the city into East LA.

If you pick up multiple passengers traveling in between those two points, then you’ll earn more than if you only took that first passenger via UberX.

Or, maybe you pick up someone in Santa Monica who wants to go 2 minutes down the street to the train station.

If you picked up a second rider who wants to travel into the Valley, then your earnings potential just went way up.

Can Drivers Turn Off Uber Pool Requests?

Drivers can’t turn UberPool rides off.

The only thing you can do is decide not to accept those rides.

Eliminating those rides hurts your acceptance rate, though, so use that strategy at your own peril.

Remember that these types of decisions can eventually hurt your Uber driver ratings if you do them enough.

Where is UberPool Offered?

UberPool exists in the biggest markets such as Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Use Uber’s city page.

Locate your city to find out if UberPool exists there. Open the app and look for the UberPool option.

Why Is There No Uber Pool Option When I Open Uber?

You won’t see the option for UberPool if Uber’s platform doesn’t offer that service in your particular region.

Or, you might not see it in larger cities where it’s normally available because Uber suspended it temporarily due to COVID-19.

Does Uber Still Offer UberPool During COVID-19?

Uber’s website reports that UberPool is unavailable temporarily due to COVID-19.

However, the message indicates that the service disruption affects only certain regions.

You need to check your app to find out whether Uber’s desire to avoid close contact between riders caused it to cancel carpooling in your city.

How Much Does UberPool Cost?

That’s a loaded question because it’s difficult to detail out how Uber’s algorithm works for this product.

vector graphic showing the best times driving for Uber works

Just like any other Uber ride type, though, UberPool prices are upfront and based on the same set of factors.

However, UberPool prices are always cheaper than many of the other Uber services — even UberX — in any given market.

The regular UberX algorithm prices its estimates based on:

  • Time of day (whether surge exists or not)
  • Estimated trip time
  • Distance

Your exact rates will vary by city, but here’s a look at current rates in Washington, D.C. (as of January 2021) 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

Like other Uber services, UberPool rides are subject to surge pricing and riders are expected (though not required) to leave at least a 15% tip.

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.

By the way, Lyft Line (Lyft Shared) and its pricing work in a similar fashion.

Does Uber Pool Charge per Person?

No, UberPool doesn’t charge per person.

It uses the above factors such as distance and time of day. It does provide riders flat rates, though.

High-Level Summary of UberPool Cost

From a high level, you’ll pay less using UberPool than UberX because you’re spreading the cost between you and other UberPool riders.

If you want to lower your Uber charges, then try using UberPool during surges.

UberPool prices do rise during a surge, but you should experience more riders entering the car during times of congestion.

That means you can save money overall.

Uber Pool Cost vs Uber X

Uber estimated that UberPool trips cost about 30% less than UberX after studying the Los Angeles market.

Uber Pool Cost vs Lyft Shared Saver

Many factors go into the difference in cost between UberPool and its competitor, called Lyft Shared Saver.

It all depends on the market, whether each company offers the shared-ride concept in that market, and demand at any given moment.

One way to know for sure is to look at both apps to compare in real-time.

UberPool vs Other Services

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.

Graphic from Uber, explaining how Uber Express POOL works

Once your account is fully set up, follow these steps to request your UberPool ride:

  1. Tap the “Where to?” bar to enter your pick-up and drop-off locations.
  2. Select “UberPool.”
  3. Review your ride price, estimated drop-off time (this is usually a range for Pool rides), and payment method.
  4. Then, tap “Confirm UberPool” to complete your request and get matched with an Uber driver

UberPool Rules You Must Follow

Make sure you understand UberPool’s rules.

Failure to abide by them can cause Uber to deactivate your account.

  • Arrive at your pickup point early or on time. Others are waiting on you.
  • Don’t eat in the car. You’re sharing a ride, and others might not want to hear you eating or smell your food’s strong odor.
  • Do not cancel. Drivers will cancel you out of the trip if they have to wait longer than two minutes for you to show up at the pickup location.
  • Keep track of your stuff. It’s difficult to get a driver to return items left behind after an UberPool ride. He or she is immediately picking up or dropping off someone else.
  • Beware of Uber luggage policies. Don’t order UberPool if you’re going to the airport and carrying five suitcases.
  • Understand that you chose a carpooling option. The driver must follow the app and pick up or drop off others before you reach your destination. If you’re in a hurry, then selecting UberPool is your mistake.

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 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.

In Summary

As you can see, 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.

You might just get into an interesting and fun conversation with another passenger, too.

As a driver, accepting each UberPool trip can keep you busy and help you earn more over the long haul.

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