UberPool: I Came, I Saw, I Took Forever to Get Home

But, hey, it's dirt cheap.

Although Uber’s UberPool service debuted in Philadelphia a full month ago now, I’m still talking to a lot of regular Uber users who haven’t taken UberPool yet and some who just don’t understand what it’s all about. Well, I’ve had my share of UberPool experiences, and here’s what I can tell you.

You Can’t Use UberPool Just Anywhere in Philadelphia

If you’ve been looking confusedly at your Uber app trying to figure out where the heck the option for UberPool is, stop looking. There’s no separate button for UberPool. It’s a sub-option for UberX, and even then, it’s not always available. Let me explain.

The UberPool concept of sharing UberX rides with other passengers going to destinations other than yours only works if you’re traveling in an area with a decent number of other customers in it. So if I’m leaving the office at 19th and Market and I request UberX, Uber gives me the option to go with UberPool. But if I’m leaving my house in Overbrook, the app just processes it as a normal UberX ride without a prompt for UberPool. If you’re in a neighborhood where UberPool is active at the time you select an UberX trip, Uber will automatically give you the option to use UberPool once you input your start and end points.

With UberPool, the Fare Is Guaranteed

Unlike with UberX, which will only provide a fare estimate, UberPool will guarantee your fare. Once you input your pickup point and destination and tell UberPool how many seats you need, UberPool will tell you exactly how much it’s going to cost you, no matter how much traffic you hit along the way.

UberPool Is Super Freaking Cheap

On one of my UberPool trips, I had to get from the Union League at Broad and Sansom down to the corner of Sixth and Bainbridge. How much did it cost, you ask? $3.70. That’s just a little bit more than the SEPTA fare, and SEPTA wouldn’t have even come close to providing door-to-door service, and it would take four or five times longer. Conservatively. And I can get all the way from Center City to Overbrook for around $10. UberX was already really cheap, but UberPool is almost ridiculously cheap.

You Won’t Necessarily Pick Anyone Else Up With UberPool

Roughly half of my UberPool rides have involved picking up another passenger, but that UberPool fare is guaranteed whether you pick up another passenger or not. You’re getting a major discount by opting in on the possibility. A sort of gamble. $10 from Center City to Overbook is awesome. $10 from Center City to Overbrook without having to make any stops along the way, even more so.

Yes, You Are Riding With a Total Stranger in UberPool

Listen, if you’re one of those people who object to using UberX because the driver could be a serial killer, then UberPool is most definitely not for you. Not only are you getting picked up by someone you don’t know, but you’re also potentially picking up other customers that you don’t know, thereby exponentially increasing the chances of your head winding up in a freezer to about 1 in 44,000,000,000.

UberPool Can Mean a Really Long Ride

Two weeks ago, I had to get home from 23rd and Market at rush hour. I waited for the trolley, but the one I needed didn’t seem to be coming. So I checked in with UberX, and an empty UberPool car was relatively close by. The driver picked me up, but instead of heading westbound on Market toward my house, we headed east. Why? Because we had to pick someone up at 17th and Chestnut. Then we had to drop her off in Powelton Village. Again, all during rush hour. It usually takes me 20 minutes and $16 to get home via UberX or 40 minutes and $3.25 via Septa. Either option would have been better than the 50 minute $10 UberPool ride, even if the other passenger was quite cute.

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