Shared Rides Are Back – But Uber Has Made Some Changes!

For drivers, one of the bright sides of the pandemic seemed to be the demise of UberPool. Drivers have never been big fans of UberPool since these rides typically paid about the same but were a lot more work!

Oftentimes, drivers would pick up one passenger on UberPool, then head to get another person along the way. Passengers would usually pretend not to know they had requested an UberPool, then got angry at drivers for “taking more time” to pick up another person – even though they chose the cheaper UberPool ride!

Now, as vaccinations are readily available, and Covid recedes (for now), people are using Uber more regularly. Due to this, Uber has decided to bring back shared rides… with a twist.

UberPool is Now UberX Share

Instead of UberPool, these rides will now be called UberX Share.

One change is that each passenger will only be allowed to request a single seat. Previously, passengers could request up to two seats for their pooled ride. Now, each can only request one seat and there is a cap of two total people per pooled ride.

Masks are optional and while Uber says they are “recommended for all riders and drivers”, there are no options for riders or drivers to cancel a ride request if a fellow passenger isn’t wearing a mask.

The front seat is now also no longer off limits.

Perhaps the biggest upside for drivers is that they can opt-out of shared rides at any time, according to a Twitter post by Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s SVP of Mobility:

On top of that, as the post states, each pickup will count toward promos instead of being lumped together as if it were one ride (it’s always been like this, which is why Pool rides are great if you’re going for an Uber Quest bonus). In addition, drivers will earn the UberX rates for these shared rides instead of a lower rate.

As of June 2022, UberX Share is available in cities across the U.S., including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Portland, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. Uber plans to expand UberX Share to even more cities this summer.

UberPool’s (or something like it) return shouldn’t be a secret – Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi hinted as much recently, according to The Verge:

“We are launching an Uber shared pool product,” Khosrowshahi said. “We have been investing for years in a high-capacity product, which is looking more and more attractive as it relates to a unit economic basis, where that can bring the price significantly lower.”

As Khosrowshahi notes, Uber is trying to bring down prices for passengers, clearly believing high prices for passengers are a threat to Uber’s business model. He also notes that UberX Shared should help to ease the demand for UberX requests, too.

Driver Reactions

We posted the news to the RSG Facebook page and our fans are skeptical to put it nicely. One reader esponded to the news with “Just another way to screw riders and drivers… Go figure.”

On Reddit, many commenters share similar sentiments:

One stated, “Nooooo! No no no. I’m not going back to that crap!”

The reaction of another was, “Not in my market yet, thankfully.”

In a quick search, I only found one driver who said anything positive about shared rides and that was a comment on a recent roundup on RSG. Gabe stated, “Pool is a great tool to get your Quest bonuses faster, and you can use some hacks to make even more money. I say bring it back.”

Personally, I would lean more towards Gabe’s mentality. If you can knock out quests and earn more, I’m all for it. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I live in a market that has never offered pooled/shared rides, so I do not have any personal experience as to how it worked before compared to this new model.

But the changes that I’m seeing sound mostly positive and I would be willing to give it a shot. I also appreciate that drivers are now given the ability to opt-out of giving these rides. That’s a courtesy that has not been offered for this type of service before.

I have to give Uber credit where credit is due – they are not forcing drivers to take these rides and that’s always been my biggest complaint about Pool.

I think one of the biggest concerns drivers have is how difficult passengers can be in a Pool ride. Some may order a shared ride to get a cheaper fare, but don’t actually want another passenger in the vehicle with them and may take out their frustration on the driver themselves or on their rating.

Also, masks have been an issue since day one of the pandemic, so juggling multiple passengers and having to enforce that stance may prove difficult for some. I hope these types of incidents are kept to a minimum.

What do you think of these changes to shared rides? Do you think UberX Share will be worthwhile for drivers? What positives and negatives do you see?

-Paula @ RSG