Uber will be opening UberPool — its carpooling answer to Lyft Line — to San Francisco starting Tuesday afternoon. That’s a short turnaround time given that it was only three weeks ago that Uber’s test carpool drivers were trained on the new process. As I reported, the company had to suspend the program after only one day because — in the words of one Uber driver — it was a “mess.”
I was invited to Uber’s expanded beta carpool testing group last week and took it a few times. I was never matched with another passenger, potentially because there weren’t enough of us on the beta trial, so I can’t tell you whether Uber has ironed out its initial bugs. I can, however, tell you that when I hopped in the first one, the driver turned and asked me, “So is this UberPool?” All the drivers I met were confused by the new feature, despite the fact that the company has released a training video. They weren’t entirely sure how to execute the new feature — several were unsure if they were supposed to just drop me off or wait for another passenger to request a ride on the same route. UberPool isn’t alone in causing driver confusion. I’ve spoken with Lyft drivers who also are struggling to adapt to Lyft’s carpool option Lyft Line.
Since the ridesharing companies are pioneering what’s essentially a brand new type of transportation in America — door-to-door short trip carpooling with strangers — it’s understandable that there would be some bumps in the process. Let’s see how UberPool does in its first week on the big market.