The morning commute is prime for commuters to find a quick and accessible ride, for cheap. Most, if not all, rideshare apps offer a carpooling service to specifically target this niche service. Which means the carpool competition in NYC is becoming stiffer.
So, to get drivers on board with driving carpool rides, transportation network companies (TNCs) have typically offered big incentives to us. This post dives into which apps’ services are better (for both drivers and passengers), and why. Specifically, I’m examining some new promotions being offered to drivers as carpool competition continues to result in lucrative incentives. And the downsides of committing to doing carpool trips.
Carpool Competition is Getting Intense
That’s right. You read it here first, folks. The one-to-one for-hire vehicle (FHV) trip is quickly becoming a thing of the past in major markets. But not everyone is on board with doing carpool trips. Why? Because historically, doing UberPool, LyftLine, etc. can be like trying to ride a wild bull. Such services as Via, which strictly are shared rides, have entered the market space lately with improved routing algorithms; however, many a driver has had a bad experience doing carpool trips before.
So, to start let’s explore the negatives associated with doing carpool trips of any kind.
Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Pool
Doing UberPool, I’ve experienced some ridiculous routing while following the navigation during the trip. I’m not 100% sure how the algorithms work with these rideshare apps exactly. Except that with Via, the route seems to be along a pre-determined path based upon drop-off location. When someone requests along that path, or one to two blocks nearby, they’re automatically added to the route. Logically, that person’s drop-off location is somewhere further past the last person’s drop-off. Extending the route in that direction.
That makes sense to me. A lot of times with UberPool, the passengers are added who request a ride anywhere within the vicinity of me too. But since they aren’t along the route already, the navigation leads to me circling around the block to go back and get them. People have picked up on this too. And I’ve had passengers tell me they don’t like being charged for this extra mileage, even though Pool rates are normally discounted compared to UberX rates.
The Brave Get Rewarded
Now I want to jump into earnings breakdown mode. But before I do that, I need to address exactly some of the chief complaints with UberPool. They are:
- Less pay for drivers, but driving for longer and requires more time
- Passengers don’t like “preferential treatment”
- New riders added automatically
- Can’t use outside navigation
On UberPeople.net, drivers have reported making $2.30 for a trip that lasted over twenty minutes. This leads to Uber having to throw in big incentives to sustain carpool competition in the NYC market. Today, I did an UberPool trip that lasted close to two hours and netted me $43; however, I accepted the trip in a Boost 1.6x zone, which means the actual net income amount would’ve been closer to $26.6. For two hours, that shakes out to $13/hour not including expenses like gasoline(and wear and tear on the vehicle!). There are countless articles and rideshare bloggers who’ve discussed in detail the pricing scheme of UberPool. I think it’s too complicated for the scope of this article to delve into completely. Just know that it’s not worth doing UberPool unless you’re getting paid at least an extra $5 per ride. Otherwise, you’re better off hunting treasure in remote exotic corners of the globe.
Other Common Issues with Carpool Competition
Another issue with carpool trips is sometimes it’s not always first-in, first-out (FIFO). Passengers get upset when other people get dropped off before them, and don’t even bother explaining, “it’s a Pool trip.” That’s just where things are right now, from my experience. Some people totally get it, and are on board with carpooling to save a buck. And others are expecting a private ride for cheap.
Whether it’s UberPool, a standard Via ride, or another similar service, pax are added automatically to the route. Some drivers don’t like this aspect, and will attempt to prevent additional requests. For example, drivers use Uber’s “stop incoming requests feature” after picking up (or being assigned) their first Pool pax. Other rideshare apps have this feature too, and drivers are able to “go on break” within the Via app to prevent additional pick-ups from being assigned; however, the driver could be tasked with servicing more riders if their pick-up and drop-off location is along the pre-determined route.
Finally, the navigation is internal only when doing carpool trips. So no Waze or Google maps. Although they (i.e., Uber) recently re-did their navigation completely, and it’s much improved. They’ve also adopted the corner to corner system that Via is known for. So the similarities are growing between these two companies’ carpooling service.
Carpool Competition From the Pax Perspective
When deciding to use a rideshare app to book a car, customers are looking for the most value for their consumer dollar. The frustration for drivers is that sometimes UberPool trips are the only thing available. And if there’s no juicy promotions to add incentive for doing Pool trips, it’s degrading the income potential for us.
There’s no doubt a lot of demand during commuting hours in cities that either prohibit or frown upon car ownership. So, pax decide upon carpool competition’s offerings when making their commute across town. Most rideshare app companies are adopting the corner to corner system now. And pricing is essentially the same across TNC; however, you can still get all the way across Manhattan for less than $6 with Via. I’m talking Financial District to 125th St.
So my take on carpool competition is summed up here. Pax have the option of a cheap shared service, if they’re willing to be patient. It could take up to 15 min. just to get a car, and once inside there’s no telling where it’ll take you. Except that you ultimately end up within a few blocks of your destination at worst. How long it will take to get there is another question.