Uber's entire formula revolves around giving you cheap rides in cars with strangers. But now the ride-sharing giant is upping the stranger count (and cutting the prices even more).
On Thursday, the company announced the introduction of its car-pooling service Uber Pool for Sydney. The service matches riders with other passengers going in the same direction at the same time, and gives them a lower cost-per-ride for playing nice with the company.
The idea is most practical at peak hour, when everyone wants to travel from the inner west to the CBD at once. But don't expect door-to-door rides: There could be a bit of walking and waiting involved.
If you've used the service overseas (you fancy traveller, you) Australia's Uber Pool is slightly different to the door-to-door Uber Pool seen in countries such as the US.
Uber wants to simplify trips by getting the riders to wait a little longer to get matched with the most suitable car-pooling buddy, or to get prospective passengers to walk a little further to their pick up point to get a better match.
The idea is to make things easier for drivers, and to make sure the first rider isn't stuck going on a massive diversion to pick up a car-pool buddy who belatedly tags onto their ride.
As Uber's general manager for Australia and New Zealand Henry Greenacre put it, "we're launching the introduction of walking and waiting."
That's right, Uber disrupted driving and now it's disrupting walking!
The service will be in Sydney available from April 3, with plans to launch in Melbourne in the coming months. The initial test area in Sydney is south of the harbour down to Mascot, and from Bondi in the east to Leichhardt in the west.
To sweeten the deal, Uber is promising discounts of up to 50 percent in the launch stage to encourage people to jump on board with car-pooling and boost uptake of the service (the idea being, the more people using the service, the more potential car pool buddies, and the easier and cheaper the trips).
While prices won't stay that low, but in peak times Greenacre says you can expect Uber Pool rides to be 30 percent cheaper than Uber X rides.
The question is how you feel about getting in the car with not just one stranger, but two… or three or four. (Uber caps car-pooling passengers at three per ride, so no one gets the middle seat.) Roughly 40 percent of Uber rides in San Francisco are Uber Pool rides, but are Australians as happy car pooling?
Greenacre is convinced.
"Australians are pretty cool people," he said. "We think it's a good cultural fit."