In a troubled quest to win over Chinese market, Uber China recently upgraded its non-for-profit ride sharing platform People’s Uber as “People’s Uber Plus”, adding a new feature that allow riders to pick up others who take the same routes and to split the bill. The new service has launched in downtown areas of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
While most of Uber’s services do not require users to input destinations before the ride takes place, this new feature asks riders to designate their destination address and select either “two-person carpool” or “private ride” model.
For those who select “two-person carpool” model, the system will match them with others who are going in the same direction, while each customer can take a maximum of one guest. The users can enjoy a 30% discount on the fare, whether there’s a successful match or not.
While the feature can cut the costs for passengers, not everyone will want to spend more time waiting and share a ride with a complete stranger.
The new service might be favored by riders thanks to lower fares and environmental benefits, but it is arguably tougher for drivers, who do not have a say in taking a second-driver or not. No matter how many passengers a driver takes, Uber will pay a flat fare to them according to mileage. That means Uber will cover the 30% discount in case passengers didn’t get a match along the way while also pocketing the extra fees in case they did.
Moreover, the extra burden for checking a second order and pick-up spots may make the feature less favorable among drivers and bring more security concerns.
In fact, the new service in getting more riders into a single car isn’t a novel idea. Uber has launched a similar service, UberPool in the U.S. since last August. Uber’s arch-competitor Didi-Kuaidi also rolled out its carpooling service Didi Shun Feng Che this July in an attempt to diverse business lines.