A few months ago I wrote about UberPOOL in the San Francisco allowing three pickups and dropoffs. Since then, UberPOOL has been introduced to the entire bay area. In fact, it’s the default option when you open the Uber rider app.
Today I came across an article titled, Why Everyone Hates UberPOOL. It does a pretty good job explaining why “both riders and drivers can’t stand UberPOOL.” After driving UberPOOL for the past few months, I agree with the author on most of the points.
Both Uber and Lyft claim that pools won’t significantly increase travel time. That is probably true in ideal situations. But in reality, it’s a different story. In many cases, drivers have to make U-turns to go backward, exit freeways, or go out of their way a few miles to pick up a second rider. This significantly increases their total drive time and mileage. In the first rider’s view, time is taken away from his schedule when the driver is trying to pick up a second rider. This type of riders usually are not shy about expressing their disappointment. Then it is the driver who has to deal with the compliant and risk their ratings with unhappy riders.
Secondly, the pool fares have not worked as promised. Uber charges the riders a set fare, which does not change and usually is 20-40% less than UberX fare. When a pool is unmatched with a second rider, the first rider “wins the lottery” and gets the ride alone for a cheap price. The losing party in this game is the driver because he has just made 20-50% less compared to UberX rides. In my experience, about 50% of the POOL rides do not get a match, and this definitely hurts drivers’ bottom lines.
UberPOOL sounds like a great option for riders since they get to pay a fixed price that is less than all other Uber options. However, many riders have expressed a lot of frustration.
I always ask the rider to confirm when a rider chooses UberPOOL, and I often hear,
“Oh, did I choose a POOL?”
“Oh, I didn’t request a POOL.”
Many riders are unaware that they have chosen the POOL. This is because Uber sneakily sets UberPOOL as the default ride option on the rider app. Unless a rider intentionally move the slider to UberX, he gets the UberPOOL, which can be really bad if he’s on a schedule. Some riders have asked me to change the ride to UberX after realizing they have chosen UberPOOL. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do as drivers. Other than cancelling the ride and pay a $5 cancellation fee, the rider has no other option but completing the ride while the driver picks up additional passengers.
UberPOOL’s significantly low fares have drawn riders who are willing to scarify time and convenience to use it. Although it is a choice made, riders often become annoyed or frustrated when the second or third rider is not someone they expected. The total stranger may be incredibly talkative, dragging on several large bags, or simply is not headed in the same direction as far as the first rider is concerned. Overall it is not a pleasant, private driver experience Uber has promised.
In short, I do not enjoy driving pools, nor do I believe my riders enjoy them, at least for the time being.