The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘uberPool’ carpool service to launch in D.C. next week

(Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

Uber is bringing yet another service to the Washington area: uberPool, the car pool option that lets you share a ride—and its cost—with other passengers traveling along the same route as you.

Washington will be the sixth U.S. city to offer the app-based service when it launches next Thursday, just over a year after its debut in San Francisco. UberPool also is available in New York, Los Angeles, Austin and Boston.

UberPool has become a popular transportation option in other markets in part because it can be an even more affordable alternative to get around than Uber’s low-cost UberX service.  In San Francisco, where it launched in August 2014, nearly half of the company’s trips are uberPool trips, according to Uber. Some uberPool trips in San Francisco are said to be up to 40 percent cheaper than uberX.

“We have seen it proven to be the most affordable product. We expect the same in D.C, with prices that are considerably less than UberX for riders,” said Zuhairah Washington, who oversees Uber’s operations in the D.C. area. “The long-term vision is for this to be a product that allows us to bring down the price even further.”

So how does it work?  Riders will be able to request an uberPool ride just like they request uberX — through the mobile application. When they provide their destination, they will be matched with another rider heading in the same direction. The fare is then split between the two riders. There can be up to four people in the same car.

For example, if you get off work near Farragut North in downtown and live in Bethesda, you could be matched with someone else traveling that same route.  The driver would be able to make two stops for pick up and drop off, but Uber would ensure to match riders that are within close locations of each other.

[Uber, Lyft and similar services get clearance to operate at National and Dulles airports]

Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said the carpool concept would not only save customers money, but also contribute to  reducing congestion.

“This is a part of Uber’s larger vision helping take cars off the road and providing a more affordable way to getting around, not having to rely on personal vehicles or on other transportation options that aren’t as reliable or effective,” Bennett said. “D.C, is a city that is faced with significant traffic congestion… We hope this is a way to tackle that issue and reduce the congestion.”

Uber is training drivers this week to get them familiar with the new service, Bennett said.

The service is expected to be well-received in the region, where Washingtonians have embraced Uber since it launched here in December 2011.  After nearly four years in the Washington region, the San Francisco-based company has grown from its first service UberBLACK to now having uberX, uberXL, UberSUV, uberFAMILY, and now UberPool.