We are now well into the semester, and the trees around the Charles River Esplanade are beginning to turn, indicating another beautiful Boston fall. I have found that I have fully settled into my regular school routine. I groggily walk to CAS for early morning classes, spend late nights in Mugar cramming for upcoming tests, devour cheese pizza at T. Anthony’s and, of course, use my favorite car service app, Uber.
Whether using Uber for a ride to the Prudential Center, or splitting the fare with friends after a night out in Allston, the quick pick up and drop off is a reasonably cheap and convenient way to get from point A to point B. All you have to do is type in a pick up location and destination, and within minutes you’re riding in the back of some Honda Accord, nonchalantly asking your driver how their night is going.
The one difference about Uber that I was extremely happy to discover when I returned to Boston was a recently added feature called UberPOOL, an option that allows you to carpool with up to two individuals heading to a destination on your same route.
UberPOOL began as an early beta product in San Francisco in August of 2014. The company referred to the idea as a “bold social experiment,” as riders would encounter strangers hopping in and out of their Uber ride as opposed to a one stop trip. Would passengers feel uneasy or even annoyed at the prospect of having to encounter another rider on their trip? Or, would the idea flourish?
Personally, I believe the service is fantastic. UberPOOL arrived in Boston on Aug. 13, giving returning college students and Bostonians alike the opportunity to split their rides with others journeying to neighboring destinations. Since travelers are divvying the cost with another rider, the fee to take an UberPOOL as opposed to an UberX is about 50 percent less. Moreover, UberPOOL allows riders to see exactly how much they’ll be paying before they get into the car, a feature UberX, UberXL, UberTAXI, and UberBlack all lack.
Last weekend I took an UberPOOL to South Station. I patiently waited four minutes for my driver Rudolph to arrive in his Subaru XV Crosstrek, glancing every few seconds at the location of his car on the app’s interactive map. When he arrived I hopped into the front seat, as my ride was being shared with Yun, a Brown University master’s student who was visiting Boston.
We chatted casually about her trip to the city and the coincidence that my sister (whom I was going to visit) also attends school in Rhode Island. After about eight minutes Rudolph dropped Yun off at her destination in Copley Square. As we parted ways and I ventured onwards towards my destination, I thought about how pleasant it was to talk to another rider during my trip, uncovering a tiny bit of her life during a rather brief exchange.
Of course I realize not everyone would enjoy such an interaction. If you prefer to keep to yourself during your commute or are nervous about the prospect of sharing your car with a stranger, then UberPOOL is probably not the best option for you. Although there is no requirement to speak to your fellow UberPOOL passenger, total silence in the confined space of a backseat may present a somewhat awkward situation. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t mind making a bit of small talk, then UberPOOL provides the same reliable service for an even more affordable price.