Uber's Express Pool says take a walk

Uber may offer its “Express POOL” service as an option at San Francisco International Airport

Denver is among three US cities that can begin using the "Express POOL" service on Tuesday.

That means Tampa Bay will have to wait and see if it will get access to Ubers latest offering, which links riders who are traveling to the same area to save money on the fare. They also would be dropped off at a site that would be a short walk from their final destinations.

The idea of Express is to eliminate the often maze-like path traditional Uber POOLs can take as drivers make their way to new passengers, Uber says. The company's Express Pool service, piloted previous year in San Francisco and Boston, is now available to customers in Los Angeles. Uber estimates that trips with the new system will be around half the price of a Pool ride and up to 75 percent less than the conventional UberX option, in which just one passenger hails a ride to a single destination.

Regardless how SEPTA responds to the potential ridership threat, we know the Philadelphia Parking Authority has responded to the app's growth by proposing a 50-cent surcharge to rides through not only Uber and Lyft, but taxis as well.

Like the existing UberPool service, Express Pool groups multiple riders into one auto.

The Express POOL launch brings a change to the current Uber POOL model that's created to make for more direct routing, with easier pickups for drivers and fewer annoying deviations from the route for riders thanks to two key actions Uber is asking riders to help out with: Walking and waiting.

Another perk of Express Pool: the price. Express Pool is pretty much the same, Uber says, but is more efficient because riders walk to a common route, rather than having a driver circle around.

While Uber's chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, recently expressed interest in the company someday running a city's buss ervice, Stock was quick to point out the differences between Express Pool and buses.

Longer term, Stock said, Uber wants Express to turn into a multi-day, multi-use option for people with limited or incomplete public transportation options.

Lyft is now working on a similar product, called Lyft Shuttle, that has so far only been rolled out in San Francisco and Chicago.

Also, if the ride-sharing service pulls people off mass transit and creates more automobile traffic, that will add to congestion, he said.

Uber started piloting Express Pool in San Francisco in November and then quietly launched it there and in Boston in December.

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