Uber has launched a new service called UberCommute, letting long-distance drivers pick up passengers along their commute and split the cost of their trip. Calling it "carpooling at the press of a button," Uber says the service will start in Chengdu, China, which is the company's biggest single market. Uber plans to bring UberCommute to cities around the world in the future.
Drivers can sign into the app and enter their destination, then Uber will match them with riders who are requesting trips in the same direction. The app will then tell the driver how much they'll make for carrying the passenger. From the passenger's point of view, it sounds like the experience will be more or less the same as requesting a regular Uber car.
UberCommute will come to cities around the world
Uber has experimented with carpooling services before, but the move into China makes sense. Didi Kuaidi, a local rival that has high market share in China and ties with US service Lyft, launched a carpooling service in Beijing earlier this summer, and has since expanded to other cities. Uber has made clear its intentions to expand its operations both in China and the ridesharing space.
"When people can push a button and get a ride in minutes they are less likely to drive themselves," says Uber in a blog post. "So instead of thirty people using their own cars, you have one car serving them all. But that is just the start. In many cities, such as San Francisco, New York, Chengdu, or Paris, so many people now use Uber that there are a ton of duplicate rides — passengers wanting to get to the exact same place at the exact same time. With services like UberCommute and UberPool we're making it possible for them to share the ride."