Already a pioneer in the sharing economy, Uber has taken the concept a step further with the launch of a trip-sharing scheme called UberPool.
The new option, introduced in London last week, allows people to share rides with others going the same way — saving 25% compared to similar UberX trips while also helping to cut congestion in the city.
The shared ride is easy to arrange via smartphone with the Uber app: travellers simply slide left for UberPool and then enter their destination and request. If you’re matched with another Londoner heading in the same direction, your journey and first name are shared but each rider pays a separate fare.
In a separate innovation available to app users in Seattle, Uber is trialling a colour-coding system to make it easier for riders and drivers to find each other. Uber drivers in the city have been given Spot devices that are attached to their car windscreens. When a rider requests a trip and is matched with a Spot-enabled driver, the rider is asked to select a colour in the app while waiting.
When the driver arrives, their car’s Spot device will glow in the rider’s chosen colour — and the rider can also light up their phone screen by pressing and holding on the colour to help the driver quickly identify them.
There’s no word yet on when Spot will be rolled out further afield, but UberPool is available in London as of last Friday (4th December). Initially, it will only be available for journeys starting in central London or from Heathrow Airport.
Outside of the UK, UberPool is available in Paris and cities in China, India and the United States. It was first introduced in San Francisco in September last year, and now accounts for more than half of all Uber trips in the city.
The London launch of UberPool comes as Transport for London (TfL) holds a consultation on a series of measures that could affect the taxi industry.
The proposed changes to regulations governing the capital’s private-hire trade include enforcing an interval of at least five minutes between a booking and the start of a journey to allow drivers to plan an appropriate route, Yahoo News reported.
For more on car-sharing, UberPool, and what urban mobility might look like in future smart cities, download our latest white paper Smart cities in Europe: The future of urban mobility.