Your commute into work sucks, and can cause you much aggravation and hassle with your time. That’s why Uber has a newly developed program that can make the madness disappear (to a certain extent) in Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington. The programs are called UberCOMMUTE and UberHOP. They are considered expansions of UberPOOL. It’s estimated that the average American commuter spends 42 hours a year stuck in traffic. That’s a lot of wasted time. What’s more, the problem will only get worse as cities and the economy grow. Investment in mass transit is an important part of the solution. But it’s expensive and not everyone lives within walking distance of the subway or a bus stop. Uber helps use today’s existing infrastructure more efficiently at no extra cost by getting more butts into the backseats of fewer cars. uberPOOL is a first step, making it quick and easy for people going in the same direction at the same time to share the journey. It’s a model that’s working.
- In San Francisco, uberPOOL now makes up nearly half Uber’s trips in the city.
- In Los Angeles, in its first eight months, uberPOOL cut the number of miles driven across town by 7.9 million and prevented carbon dioxide pollution by 1,400 metric tons.
But that’s just the start of what’s possible with apps like Uber. Today, 76 percent of commuters in the U.S. drive to work by themselves. If they could easily share the trip (and the cost) with one or more fellow commuters that would dramatically cut congestion, improving everyone’s quality of life. It’s why Uber is excited to announce two new pilot programs in Seattle and Chicago that will make it even easier for people to share their journey to and from work.
Seattle: uberHOP is a new service Uber is piloting in Seattle beginning Thursday, December 10. It will be available along select routes during commuting hours. Here’s how it works-
- Open the app and select uberHOP. Choose a route and request an uberHOP.
- Uber will pair you up with a driver as well as other commuters traveling in the same direction. You’ll then get directions on where and when to catch your ride.
- Using those directions, walk to your pickup location where a driver and your fellow commuters will meet you. You’ll need to be on time as your uberHOP driver will leave promptly.
- At the end of your journey, you’ll be dropped off at a pre-destined stop so you can walk the last few blocks to work.
Chicago: Uber will be piloting a new program for drivers who want to share their commute and recoup the cost of the trip. It will be available throughout the Chicagoland area from 6am to 10pm, Monday to Friday. Here’s how it works-
- If you want to share your commute, sign up with Uber and Uber will check your driver’s license and driving record. On the days you’re driving to work and want to share the ride, switch on the app and Uber will pair you up with someone going the same way.
- If you’re a passenger switch on the app and select uberPOOL, choose the “commuters” option and then enter your pickup location as well as your destination. Uber will then pair you up with a fellow commuter on the way to or from work so you can share the cost of the journey.
- Uber will have standard Uber safety features on during and after the ride, like GPS tracking, share my ETA, and 2-way feedback.
Uber chose the Chicago area because they believe this pilot can help alleviate a huge problem: congestion. I-90 recently earned the title of the “nation’s worst bottleneck,” costing area residents 16.9 million hours of wasted time and a staggering $418 million in lost productivity per year.
These two pilots are an app-based version of something that’s already happening every day. Casual carpools (or slug lines) have taken off in places like Washington, DC and the East Bay in Northern California. With casual carpools, commuters line up at prearranged points. Drivers pull up with a sign in their window showing their destination and passengers going to the same place jump in. By using technology Uber can make this process more convenient, more reliable and safer. It’s a model that the French ride-sharing company BlaBlaCar has proven can work over long distances in Europe.
Uber started out to meet a simple necessity: the need to get a ride. We have now discovered a way to help with one of the biggest challenges cities face: congestion. By making it easy and affordable for people to share rides, we can get more butts into fewer cars. Over time, we can create credible alternatives to car ownership. After all, if you can press a button and get an affordable ride across town within minutes at any time of day or night, why bother to own a car at all?
For more information about UberCOMMUTE and UberHOP, read the UberPOOL website.
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