As ride-hailing prices surge, Uber is back with an option to share a ride to save money

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If you think back to the pre-pandemic days, you might remember a thing called UberPool, which allowed users to share the cost of a ride with complete strangers.

Those days abruptly ended in early 2020, but as travel begins to mirror its pre-pandemic self — complete with sold-out flights and airport delays — Uber users can once again request shared rides in select U.S. cities this summer.

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(Image courtesy of Uber)

Related: Uber and Lyft wait times improving as more drivers hit the road

Starting June 21, UberX Share will be available for riders in nine U.S. cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Portland, Oregon.

Although UberX Share is a relaunched version of UberPool, users will notice a few differences. To start, just because you request a shared ride does not mean you are guaranteed to actually get a co-rider along the way, but your UberX Share trip will always be cheaper than a regular UberX ride.

At a minimum, UberX Share riders receive an upfront discount for selecting a shared ride, and if they are matched with a co-rider during their journey, they’ll receive up to 20% off their total fare price.

Users will receive a notification informing them when/if they match with a co-rider; the notification will also show the subsequent dollar amount the rider is now saving, which includes the aforementioned initial discount, according to the company.

(Image courtesy of Uber)

Related: $100-plus fares and 2-hour wait times: What the Uber and Lyft driver shortage means for you

Initially, users should expect no more than one other rider to join them in the car, a tactic designed to leave the middle seat open, per Uber.

Uber will only pair riders who are heading in the same direction together, so you can plan on arriving close to the same time as what’s noted for an UberX.

“We’ve designed UberX Share so that riders will arrive no more than eight minutes later than an UberX ride,” Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s senior vice president of mobility and business operations, told TPG. “This new shared rides offering will provide a more affordable, efficient and sustainable experience for riders, drivers, the cities we serve, and for Uber.”

In the coming weeks and months, Uber expects to expand UberX Share to other U.S. destinations. The service is currently available in seven international locations, including cities in Argentina, Africa, the Middle East and Australia.

(Image courtesy of Uber)

Will UberX Share help with rider issues?

Uber’s reintroduction of shared rides could alleviate some of the issues experienced by riders, like myself, who have dealt with long wait times and surge pricing likely due to high gas prices.

When asked about these issues, Uber said surge pricing and wait times have actually improved this year thus far, adding that the company has not seen a decrease in drivers on the platform in North America.

Speaking from recent personal experience, a friend and I tried to take both Uber and Lyft at various points last week in Chicago. We were unable to successfully locate a Lyft at any time, while Uber provided surge pricing throughout the same period. Frustrated, we reverted to taking cabs each time, though hailing a cab took up to 10 minutes, even in downtown Chicago.

Like Uber, Lyft also reported an increase of drivers in its workforce earlier this month, which should help some of these pain points often shouldered by riders.

If you are looking to take an Uber, Lyft or taxi this summer, I would allow extra time for finding a vehicle, as you may not be able to get one at times. Of course, public transit presents the cheapest option of all.

Featured photo by d3sign/Getty Images.

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