Uber to launch carpool feature in Australia

Popular ride-sharing app Uber is set to unveil a new function that will allow users to split rides and fares with strangers.

Called UberPOOL, it will allow users to save up to 50% on their trip compared with a standard UberX ride, according to the company.

The function has been available in the U.S. for the past few years, with Uber holding off launching the feature in Australia due to smaller market sizes and recent unrest between ride-sharing apps and the taxi industry.

Now set to be launched in Sydney in April, Uber plans to roll out the feature nationally throughout the year.

Rather than just booking a personal ride as users currently do, Uber will now offer the option to share your ride with someone who is taking a similar journey or direction with you.

Uber’s Head of Cities for Australia and New Zealand, Henry Greenacre, said that it might add “a few extra minutes to your trip”, but may be more financially beneficial if you’re not in a rush.

“There is a little bit of walking and a little bit of waiting in order to save an extra amount of money on your trip,” he said.

With price being a major factor as to whether you catch an Uber, a taxi or simply take public transport, UberPOOL may be the deciding factor in a market that is quickly becoming crowded.

“What we learned pretty quickly was that there were parts of the app that riders and drivers loved, and there were parts that we need to improve on. So the team went away and we’ve made some wholesale changes to the way that uberPOOL works,” said Mr Greenacre.

Uber doesn’t expect drivers to be impacted financially by the carpooling function, although no official statement regarding the impact of uberPOOL on drivers has been released.

How will UberPOOL benefit me?

For those still on the fence in regards to ride-sharing apps versus taxis, UberPOOL may be a deciding factor, with the possibility of saving money on your trips set to appeal to many users. However, the possible savings could be offset by additional journey times, which may not suit those who are in a hurry. Not to mention sharing the car with another stranger!

With the ride-sharing market becoming more crowded, with newcomers Taxify and female-only ride sharing app Shebah now launching Australia-wide, Uber has had to diversify and improve its services to retain its market popularity.

A Canstar Blue survey in 2016 found that price was the main driving factor for Aussies using Uber instead of taxis, with nine out of ten respondents (89%) choosing Uber for this reason. In addition, 67% claimed they prefer Uber drives to taxi drivers, while 40% of Uber users said they are unlikely to ever use a taxi again.

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