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UberPOOL introduces ride-sharing service to London, drivers remain skeptical

Mon 30 Nov 2015

London black cab

Taxi-app giant Uber is launching its ride-sharing scheme UberPOOL in London this week, becoming the second European city to introduce the service after Paris.

UberPOOL will allow up to three passengers to share a journey – in theory, cutting ride fares as well as urban congestion. Users can save up to 25%, compared with a standard uberX journey. Each pick-up is limited to a maximum two people, and no more than three passengers can ride at one time.

Jo Bertram, Uber’s UK general manager, argued that UberPOOL will be an easy and affordable option for people going in the same direction at the same time. Bertram added the the service will mean ‘cheaper rides for passengers, less time between trips for drivers and fewer cars on the city’s streets over time.’

‘By getting more bums on previously empty seats, this new service will help cut congestion and pollution in London,’ she said. ‘We believe uberPOOL can become a credible alternative to car ownership.’

The project was first launched in San Francisco last year, where it has enjoyed such a successful introduction that over half of Uber journeys in the U.S. city are now made under the service. It is also a popular alternative in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Despite the efficiency promised to drivers, some have complained across the UberPeople forum that the pooling service complicates payments, confuses passengers and inevitably harms drivers’ ratings. Many members argue that there is no advantage to the driver for using UberPOOL – unless it is a full surge price journey ‘during the introductory period,’ when they can make the most profit.

London’s UberPOOL service will commence from 4pm this Friday. Initially, it will only serve journeys in central London, and to and from Heathrow Airport.

The step is likely to aggravate the relationship between Uber and the black cab industry, which is increasingly irritated with the app for undercutting its pricing and outdoing the traditional service for convenience. Transport for London (TfL) has recently proposed a set of measures for private hire car operators (read Uber) which it says will threaten its existence in the English capital.

The measures include a 5-minute wait time between booking and commencing a journey, and a requirement that cars can be booked up to a week in advance. It also proposes ride-sharing controls, which could potentially challenge the new UberPOOL launch.


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