Uber wants you to get into an unfamiliar car with a total stranger. But that may be a price worth paying for a cheaper ride. The company’s new UberPool feature will notify users if it discovers a “co-rider” with similar travel plans, and will also provide the other person’s first name and information as to who will be collected first. The two passengers can then split the fare. Those journeying to stranger pastures won’t be left out in the cold, either, as Uber promises to provide a discount even if a travelling companion cannot be found. “While the UberPool idea is simple, the implications are profound,” declares the transportation startup in a blog post.
Uber just introduced a new carpooling feature called — what else — an UberPool. If you’re headed the same direction as another Uber passenger, the app will match you to them. You can share the ride, splitting the costs via Uber’s app fare share feature. You’ll be notified whether the driver is picking you or the other person up first. “UberPool” will appear in the Uber app itself as one of the options, alongside uberX, Uber Black, UberSUV, and UberTaxi. If the app fails to find an UberPool match for you, it will actually discount your ride — perhaps a promotional tactic to convince users to test out the experience. For now, UberPool is in beta, launching for a select group of users in the SF Bay Area starting August 15th. Carpooling with a stranger might freak some people out, but it was the initial premise behind ridesharing. Consumers might be willing to make the leap to save a few bucks…especially consumers addicted to ridesharing…who work in professions that aren’t hugely lucrative…like journalism…yeah, I really want in on this beta trial. In the blog post announcing the news, Uber admitted it could take some adjustment for riders, “This [is] a bold social experiment. There’s the interaction between riders in an UberPool—should they talk to each other? When is that cool and when is it, well, annoying?”