Uber Pool’s Dirty Secret

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Why not kick off the new blog with a click bait title? Actually it isn’t and let me explain why. I use Uber Pool all the time in NYC to save 25 percent on my ride. Coming back from the airport or after a night out, I save a lot of money from the added inconvenience of another passenger(s). Sometimes I get the discount price and ride alone.

Yesterday, I was headed from Manhattan to Brooklyn in a Pool when the driver made his first stop then his second. To keep up my glistening 4.82 rating, I engaged in some idle conversation with the driver. He told me that he noticed that the fare per passenger went down as more passengers joined the Pool. That made sense since that’s the reason that car pools exist. The driver added the surprising caveat that the fare did not go down equally per passenger. The last to join the Pool received the lowest fare and could still be dropped off first.

With no regards to manners, I asked my Pool passengers to share their rates. In this case, I paid $25, the second passenger paid $17, and the final paid $13. Based on the most efficient route, the second passenger was dropped off first and I second. Meanwhile the driver was laughing at my disbelief that I was disproportionately subsidizing the ride of others.

When I exited the Pool, I thought maybe my original rate would be adjusted. Of course it was not.

Uber tricksters!

Anyone else know about this? I wonder if the savings is substantial at the airport in the same way.

 

17 COMMENTS

  1. Do you have any control over whether you are the first picked up or second or third? If not then over time this should all balance out. You pay more this time, less next time, etc.

  2. This isn’t really a “dirty secret” and makes complete sense for the profitability model to work both for Uber, but also the driver. If a driver is a UberPool driver, they always have to have the functionality turned on; they aren’t allowed to turn it off and on when the please (ie to take advantage of surge). The first person, no matter the distance, always has to pay the most because there is no guarantee that the driver will pick up another ride along the way. If you are the only person in a Uberpool, the driver is only paid off of your fare; there is no backend adjustment to pay the driver closer to the normal fare. So if the driver picks up 1-person uberpools all day, they will get screwed.

    One trick, if the quoted Uber pool price is significantly lower than the normal uberx price, you are definitely the 2nd or 3rd person in that ride. If its only slightly lower than the normal uberx price, you’re the first rider being picked up.

  3. While you might be on to something here, I suspect that if you think more carefully about how fare pricing works (your fare depends on the distance you travel and the time it takes to get there), you’ll realise that nothing shady is going on here.

    You paid the most on your last ride because your ride took the furthest distance.

    Note that that can be true regardless of whether you’re dropped off first, second, or third.

  4. Good Datkidjones, I learned something: how to know you are the 2nd or 3rd person in a pool ride.
    I drive Uber and Lyft on weekends in Hoboken NJ and had many UberPool trips into NYC. Although the math is also based on the surge rate at the time of each request, 2nd and 3rd requests pay significantly less on pool rides and also making it a great deal if they get dropped off first. The toll is split on river crossing, 10 + 10 NJ to NYC (never had pool with 3 requests into City).

    Sometimes I feel sorry for the first person looking at the difference in rate and the time on the ride.

    Having two people in the vehicle (either by pool or otherwise) gets the driver a discount at the toll if carpool rate is activated on EZPass. I don’t like pool requests regardless.

    • “Sometimes I feel sorry for the first person looking at the difference in rate and the time on the ride.”

      Exactly!

  5. I feel sorry for only one person in an Uber pool ride, the driver! Having to put up with you snot nosed cheap brats who thinks by saying ” I’m giving you 5 stars” will brighten your drivers day! Your all whinny and pathetic !

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