Uber moves to claim bigger piece of the pie
by Mike Beggs
On the heels of Uber Pool, in mid-September Uber Technologies rolled out its Uber Express Pool service in Toronto, promising “a more efficient shared ride.”
With Uber Express Pool, passengers are requested to walk as far as 250 metres to meet their car, on a route deemed to most efficiently service all riders heading in the same general direction.
It comes at about half the price of an Uber X ride, and 30 percent less than with Uber Pool (which first brought the company’s carpooling feature to Toronto in January of 2016). Customers will be asked to wait a minute or two longer for the Uber algorithm to match them up with their driver, in return receiving a more direct, cheaper trip – optimally sharing the car with two other people.
Uber Express Pool was introduced to Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego, Denver, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. last year. It builds on the shared ride option model of Uber Pool, which operates in 36 cities worldwide.
Uber Canada G.M. Rob Khazzam told The Globe And Mail, “For Uber Pool to work you need to have a really, really large volume of transactions. We have that today, because the Uber Pool product has been tremendously successful. That’s why we’re doubling down and bringing Express Pool here.”
“Our hope would certainly be to bring it to other markets in Canada, but it’s probably not a realistic 2018 outcome.”
The Toronto area’s Express Pool boundaries will extend to Markham, Vaughan, Brampton, and Mississauga.
Uber leaders say – the still heavily subsidized – Uber Express Pool fits in with their long-range vision of reducing the number of private cars on the road, and benefitting cities by slashing gridlock, and pollution.
“We think carpooling is very much the way of the future,” Ethan Stock, Uber’s director of product for shared routes told The Verge.
However, taxi industry leaders suggest this mark’s Uber’s latest effort to up its lopsided share of the Toronto ground transportation market, plain and simple.
“Their main idea is to kill the taxi industry. That’s basically what they’re trying to do,” alleges Taxi Action president Behrouz Khamseh. “I’d like to see in December or January if people are willing to walk 300 metres.”
“It’s not their business to worry about getting people out of their cars,” he continues. “They’ve got 60,000-plus cars roaming around the downtown clubs. What the hell are they talking about?”
While acknowledging that the younger generation is using Uber, “no ifs, ands, or buts”, Lucky 7 Taxi owner Lawrence Eisenberg agrees the Silicon Valley giant’s sole motivation here is revenue generation.
“It’s not concern (about the environment), ” he alleges.
“And, this will (actually hurt) public transit. People will stop taking the Red Rocket. (Down the road), they will do Uber Bus, too.”