As you open the Uber app and enter a destination, depending on your market, you may find some services that are cheaper UberX: Uber POOL and Express POOL. What are the POOL services, and how is regular POOL different from Express POOL?
Uber POOL is a shared Uber ride that allows you to split the cost of your ride with another rider who is headed in a similar direction as you. Your riding companion is automatically selected based on their location and final destination. The Uber app determines who will be picked up first, and who will be dropped off first and is a cheaper alternative to UberX.
Uber Express POOL is a shared ride similar to POOL that requires you to walk to a nearby pickup location. Instead of being picked up directly at your location and dropped off at your destination, Express POOL rides require that you take a short walk to be picked up and a short walk to reach your destination. Express POOL rides are cheaper than Uber POOL. It is the cheapest Uber service.
Read about the differences between all Uber services
To use Uber Pool, input your destination and select UberPOOL from the ride type slider. Uber then matches you with a driver and another rider in the area who is headed in a similar direction as you. After the match is made, you’ll receive the other rider’s name, destination, and who will be picked up first. Each passenger can bring along one friend, for a maximum total of four riders. The Uber app tells the driver the pickup and drop off order, so don’t be surprised if you’re dropped off second even if you were picked up first.
How to use Uber Express POOL
To use Express Pool, input your destination and scroll to select Express POOL. You may see brief instructions letting you know that it may take a longer time to map out your ride and select a pickup spot, and that you may have to take a short walk to and from your pickup and drop-off locations. Accept those messages, then tap Request Express POOL.
After you are matched with a driver, a pickup spot will appear on the map. The Uber app will prompt you to let you know when you should head toward the pickup spot. Meet at the pickup spot, and wait for your driver to arrive. The app will also show your drop-off spot, so don’t be surprised to see that your drop-off location may be a short walk from your final destination.
How much do Uber POOL and Express POOL cost?
Figuring out how Uber POOL pricing works is a bit more difficult as it’s based on Uber’s internal algorithm, but the facts are: Uber POOL and Express POOL are the two least expensive Uber services. Uber POOL costs less than UberX, and Express POOL costs even less than Uber POOL. Splitting the ride with another rider makes the overall cost of your ride goes way down. And even if you aren’t matched with another rider and ride alone, you’ll still pay the lower POOL rate.
Uber uses an algorithm to dynamically change the price of the ride depending on whether they think you’ll be matched with a partner or not. Uber’s up front pricing makes it easy to see exactly how much the ride will cost you, so all you need to do is input your destination to see how much your ride will cost in all of the different Uber services.
Price comparison: UberX vs Uber POOL vs Express POOL
To demonstrate the pricing differences between UberX, Pool, and Express Pool, the image above shows what the same ride costs on all three services. A variety of factors might change the exact pricing, but this sample ride is a good demonstration of pricing ratios. Pool is about half the price of UberX, and Express Pool is about 3/4 of the price of Pool.
One ride, three services: Express Pool, Pool, and UberX
Uber Ride Type
Special rules and fees for POOL and Express POOL
An important thing to be aware of when you’re using POOL and Express POOL is that you’re allowed less time to cancel before being charged a cancellation fee. You will be charged a $5 cancellation fee if you cancel your POOL or Express POOL more than one minute after you are matched with a drive. Other Uber services allow you up to 2 minutes to cancel before you are charged.
POOL and Express POOL drivers are only required to wait up to 2 minutes at your pickup location before they can cancel on you as a no-show and charge you a $5 fee. Other Uber services force drivers to wait up to 5 minutes before they can cancel and charge the $5 fee. Be sure to be outside and ready to be picked up as soon as the driver arrives to avoid extra fees and delays.
Is Uber POOL and Express POOL available in your city?
UberPOOL is not available in every US city, and Express POOL is available in even fewer cities. To see if either service is available in your city, check inside the Uber app: Input a destination, then look through the available services to see if POOL or Express POOL are present.
You can also visit uber.com/cities to see a list of all the Uber services available in your city.
Is it awkward or unsafe to ride with a stranger in Uber Pool?
In my experience, most Uber customers using POOL keep to themselves and don’t try very hard to engage you in conversation. Occasionally I’ll get a chatty companion, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the person. I don’t find it awkward, but if you don’t like interacting with strangers at all it might not be the best option for you. Uber even provides a specific help article and contact form if you had an issue with one of your POOL companions, so if you’re unhappy there’s an established way to complain.
All Uber users who request Pool have an account that is connected to their name and credit card, so there are some safeguards there. However, you can bring one companion along with you on the ride, so it’s possible that someone could bring a friend who isn’t an Uber customer. That means they’re difficult to track down if there’s an incident.
The promise of a shared ride — or a solo ride, if you’re not matched with another rider headed in the same direction as you — for a steep discount sounds like a good deal, but does the reality live up to the promise? When UberPOOL functioned as intended — with two passengers sharing a ride — users seem pretty happy to get the cheaper ride. All in all, it’s an option worth checking out because there’s no way that you’ll pay more than an UberX.