With a spate of new ride-sharing operators making a splash in Australia of late, market incumbent Uber is turning up the heat with the launch of carpooling service uberPOOL in Sydney next month.
UberPOOL is just like normal carpooling, except through the gig economy. Users can choose to share their ride with other passengers heading in a similar direction, saving money on their fare (up to 50%, according to Uber) and reducing their carbon footprint.
Passengers won’t be picked up from their houses like typical Uber services, however, instead needing to walk a short distance to a pickup point — the location of which the company says it has best determined through the use of AI technology. The service is also better for drivers, says the company, resulting in less idle time between trips and more ride requests overall.
The service has been live in international markets, including the US, since 2014, but the impending Sydney launch will be the first time the company has made the service available in Australia. It will add to the company’s existing medley of services, including the base-level uberX, swanky uberBLACK, and food delivery option uberEATS.
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“UberPOOL makes it easy and affordable for people going in a similar direction to share the trip. It’s carpooling at the push of a button. That means cheaper rides for passengers and less congestion on the city’s streets over time,” Henry Greenacre, Uber’s general manager in Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement.
“We’re excited to finally bring uberPOOL to Australia to kickstart a new wave in the share economy that will help our cities move more efficiently over time.”
European ride-sharing company Taxify recently launched in Australia, with services live in Sydney and Melbourne, while, Indian Uber competitor Ola chose Australia as its first international launch market, and has so far rolled out in Perth and Sydney.
Meanwhile, local corporate carpooling startup Liftango closed a $675,000 seed funding round earlier this month, and female-only ride-sharing service Shebah now has operations in all states of Australia.
Speaking to StartupSmart in December ahead of Taxify’s Australian launch, country manager Sam Raciti said any competition from new ride-sharing operators is “good competition”.
“It keeps everyone on their game, and we’re not here to settle on second place. We’re here to come into the market and achieve greatness, and if there’s more players, so be it, we’ll continue to innovate,” he said.