SINGAPORE Uber's carpool service, uberPOOL, will launch in Singapore on Jul 1, the ride-sharing service announced on Wednesday (Jun 29).
The service allows customers to share their ride and split the cost of the trip with another Uber rider requesting a ride along a similar route at the same time. It will match commuters with each other, and both driver and passenger names will be visible to all parties.
If the driver accepts the request of the second rider, the mapped route is then automatically updated to accommodate the new pick-up and drop-off locations. The riders will then split the fare for the shared portion of the route.
Rides on uberPOOL are expected to be 25 per cent cheaper than those on uberX. The service will also make drivers more efficient as they spend less "dead time" unpaid in-between trips, Uber said.
Drivers have also "undergone an extensive screening process", it added.
"UberX drivers all qualify to be uberPOOL drivers once they complete our online video training,” Uber Singapore's general manager, Warren Tseng, said. “We have face-to-face training and we also have podcasts. So we make sure every driver goes through this, checks off the boxes, and they know how to handle uberPOOL."
"Theoretically a driver could get in and operate this, no problem, but we don't want them to be surprised that there's another customer coming in the car and they have to make multiple drop-offs,” he added.
The service was first launched in San Francisco in 2014, and has since been rolled out in cities such as New York, Beijing and Jakarta.
"When we first started in Singapore with UberX, people thought it would be strange to get into a car with a driver that you've never known and it's not a taxi,” Mr Tseng said. “But as we've seen over time, as people are educated and get comfortable with the safety standards that we have, it grows. So we do expect some time for this behaviour to change, we do expect quite a bit of rider education, as well as driver education."
The launch of uberPool comes amid a rise of car-pooling services. These include GrabHitch, Tripda, and RYDE - who has said its network has grown to more than 20,000 users since April 2015. Grab launched a similar service, GrabHitch, last year.
"GRABHITCH IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM UBERPOOL"
The GrabHitch service is currently in beta and is served by regular drivers, said Mr Lim Kell Jay, head of Grab Singapore.
"Many of our GrabHitch drivers are working professionals who genuinely believe in the benefits of giving fellow commuters a lift, meeting new people and playing a part in creating a greener city - all while being able to offset some of the cost of their journey," said Mr Lim.
He added that GrabHitch "is a very different service from uberPOOL".
For one, GrabHitch fares are "not for profit" as they are calculated to "cover fuel cost based on the distance of the journey, and variable cost like wear and tear", said Mr Lim.
GrabHitch drivers are also "regular non-commercial drivers" and cannot charge commercial fares.
One car-sharing player Channel NewsAsia spoke to said car-pooling is a "good option" for commuters in light of high car and COE costs, but there are still some concerns.
"I think it's a good option, but how well it'll be received is a question mark,” said Popular Rent A Car’s managing director, Ho Kok Kee. “Because of course you need to share with somebody else and privacy is also a concern, so I think it is a mixture of how well it is priced and how well is the service organised."