Today I tried the newly launched Uber Pool, a shared cab service by the popular rental taxi provider – Uber.
***This week, until Fri, Sept. 23, Uber Pool is available at a FLAT RATE of Rs. 50 for (up to) two people traveling a maximum of 15 K.M. within Chennai city.***
Uber Pool is an interesting service that lets users to share their rides with other passengers (max. 4 in a car) for half the price of a normal (independent) cab rate, for the same distance. (At the time of writing this article.)
Uber Pool was the first option in the left corner of the app, and I clicked it. We need to enter both the ‘From’ and ‘To’ locations for ordering this service. So I chose both. Then, the app said that it is waiting for other passengers in the area, but the cab came to my house and picked me within five minutes. The app told me that the cab will wait only two minutes for me – as a courtesy to (any) fellow passengers traveling in the car. I was fine with that.
When I alighted the cab, I was the only person. The driver got a notification maybe 10-minutes into the drive and picked up two more people on the way. They were going to Nungambakkam, I was going to Parrys.
Now the question is whom to drop off first?
Neither the cab driver, nor the passengers can decide this. The app does!
Uber app decided that the driver should go to Nungambakkam first, so the cab took a deviation from the Poonamallee High Road where we were traveling. If it had traveled straight on the same road, I would have reached Parrys sooner.
That’s the catch. If you are the only passenger or if you are dropped before others, you can reach your destination faster – almost at the same time as an independent taxi would take. But if the app decides that others should be dropped off before you, your ride time will be longer.
In my case, the journey that took 1 hour 20 minutes would have taken just 45 minutes had the cab dropped me off first.
So it is a good idea to plan ahead and start earlier. If you estimate your ride time to be 45 minutes, I would suggest you to start at least 1.5 hours earlier.
While returning from Parrys, the taxi picked up another passenger, but his destination was ahead of mine. So this time the taxi dropped me off first and I did not lose any time.
Altogether, I think shared cab services are cool as the customer pays only half the price and it keeps a few cars off the road, reduces pollution, etc. But these benefits come at the cost of your time. So if you have the time, Uber Pool is definitely worth a try.