With fierce competition going on between transportation startups, this race is spawning a number of cool and innovative features for consumers, not to mention the price war resulting in cheaper fares.
Uber says it’s looking toward a future where people won’t have to own cars — they can just use Uber. For this goal, the company is testing an initiative that would drop the cost of an Uber ride by half.
Earlier today, Uber announced UberPool, a new feature that will let you pick up other riders on the way to your destination and split the bill.
With UberPool, the app basically works the same. Users hail a car by pushing a button on their smartphone app and when Uber finds a car-pool match it will notify them of their co-rider’s first name. If it doesn’t find a match, the company said it will still give users a discount on their ride.
While this move will do a lot to cut costs for passengers, not everyone will want to ride with a stranger in addition to the driver picking them up; Uber notes that the new feature also serves as a kind of “social experiment” and said those kinks should be worked out in its beta testing through driver training and feedback from initial riders.
Since there’s not much data about how people will react to the new service, Uber isn’t going to release UberPool across every market it serves. The company has already begun with a private beta, and starting August 15 a public beta will launch in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Uber slashed the price of its UberX tier in New York City by 20 percent last month, making its rides cheaper than traditional yellow cabs. But, this move was criticized by the taxi industry as moving into its territory, as well as by Uber drivers who saw lower pay. It seems UberPooling could be it’s next move against the stagnant taxi business.
The People’s Uber in Beijing
Meanwhile in Beijing, Uber is expanding its growing lineup of special ride-sharing options, this time with another cheap alternative to hailing a cab in Beijing. The company calls it ‘Remin You Bu’, which translates to ‘People’s Uber’.
Alongside the standard UberX and Uber Black, users in China can choose People’s Uber, a hybrid between citizen cab driving and ride-sharing.
“Drivers are fellow Beijingers vetted by Uber and rated by users after every trip. Route details are logged through Uber’s system, and the cars are insured and licensed according to Beijing standards.”
While it’s not guaranteed what types of cars you’ll be riding in, the cost is comparable to a regular cab. There’s no starting base fare compared with the 15 RMB ($2.43) base for UberX. It’s cheaper per minute to travel with People’s Uber than UberX, and the minimum fare is just 12 RMB ($1.90) — 1RMB cheaper than an official Beijing cabbie’s base fare.
Uber is picking up steam and with the massive $1.2 Billion funding round, looking to completely disrupt the stalwart transportation market. Does this move spell doom for the smaller existing ride sharing players?