Uber launches new casual carpooling service for drivers, riders

Wong Casandra
Senior Reporter
Launch of Uber Commute. (PHOTO: Uber Singapore)

Come Thursday (March 15), Uber customers will have another carpooling option, thanks to a new peer-to-peer service called Uber Commute.

Singapore is the US-based ride-hailing firm’s first market in Asia for the new casual carpooling service, following a pilot programme that was conducted in Washington April last year. 

Like its counterparts GrabHitch and Ryde, it matches drivers with riders travelling in the same direction and charges a fixed fare unaffected by dynamic pricing.

As such, fares for rides booked under Uber Commute will be up to 25 per cent lower than UberPOOL and 51 per cent lower than uberX services. 

However, Uber Commute will only be available from 5am to 10pm on weekdays.

Starting from Wednesday, users can pre-book Uber Commute rides from one week to 15 minutes in advance under the Uber app, and are allowed to take as many trips as required.

Uber Commute drivers can only take on two trips a day between their workplace and home. Unlike UberPOOL, they cannot take on multiple passengers.

To date, more than 8,000 drivers have signed up to be Uber Commute partners, said an Uber Singapore spokesperson.

Drivers will get to keep 100 per cent of their fares, unlike ComfortDelGro drivers on UberFlash and Uber private-hire drivers who are subjected to paying 10 per cent and 20 per cent commission, respectively.

According to current regulations, fares for carpooling activities are limited to only to the costs and expenses incurred while carpooling.

Uber Commute’s fares will not exceed costs and expenses – such as fuel, parking and Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) surcharges – incurred by the driver to carry the passenger.

However, according to Uber, in cases where drivers have to enter an ERP zone to pick up or drop their riders, they may request for them to share the cost.

“We encourage drivers and riders to discuss this before the start of the trip to avoid disputes,” said the company.

(SOURCE: Uber Singapore)

At a press conference held on Wednesday, Warren Tseng, general manager for Uber Singapore and Malaysia, said Uber Commute will “help Singapore to realise its car-lite vision”.

Tseng noted that 40 per cent of cars could be taken off the road if people opted for ride-sharing and carpooling solutions. He cited, by example, how one in four Uber rides in Singapore are made via UberPOOL.

Last Friday, Uber’s competitor Grab unveiled an upcoming marketplace app that allows customers to rent bicycles and e-scooters, marking the latter’s official foray into the shared bike and personal mobility device space.

GrabCycle aims to convert car riders who regularly travel 3km and under “into bike-sharing users” and work “towards a car-lite and green vision of Singapore”, said Reuben Lai, head of GrabVentures, the firm’s innovation arm.

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