At the end of November Uber launched its car-sharing service, Uber Pool, in London, and last week I had the opportunity to try it out.
Uber is the obvious answer a Londoner’s problem of travelling from one Christmas party to another, having had one too many mulled wines to sensibly engage with Citymapper to determine how to get to the next set of canapés in a timely and safe manner.
So on Wednesday evening after leaving a crowded pub on Fleet Street, I launched the Uber app and was pleasantly surprised to see Uber Pool offered as a service.
Last month, I heard the UK’s MD of Uber, Jo Bertram, speak at the Wired Retail event and explain how Uber Pool matches two riders who are going in a similar direction, allowing them to share the cost of the journey and reducing the overall cost by 30-40%, as well as the added benefit of less emissions and cars on the roads.
In fact, The Guardian reported last week that 45,000 trips were made using the new sharing service in its first seven days alone.
I agreed to share my journey and ten minutes later a white Toyota Prius crawled straight past us and we had to run down the road to stop him – but to be fair, it was extremely busy on the road at 6pm.
Finally hopping into the car, there was a young woman in the back tapping away on her iPhone and myself and Ben Sillitoe (editor of Essential Retail), awkwardly had a conversion with each other for the ten minute trip into Soho. And £8.15 later (at a discount of £1.38 for choosing to use Uber Pool), we jumped out of the car and gave a distinctly British and cheery goodbye to the woman who we had shared a journey with, albeit, not one word.
I did wonder if the woman already in the Uber received a larger discount than us, because she was the passenger going out of her way to pick us up, not the other way around. And we just jumped on her ride, and out again, before she got to her end destination.
I can definitely see the benefit of Uber Pool, during Wednesday’s rush hour, our Uber snailed along the streets surrounded by taxis and delivery mopeds, proving there are far too many vehicles on the road in London. And at a discount, why not share your short ride with a stranger to help alleviate this burden?
I also like how Uber made it really obvious and simple to use its new fare-reducing service. And you never know, this new environmentally-friendly service might score back a few brownie-points after Uber’s negative publicity over the last year.