Uber, the company that's become synonymous with what are essentially on-demand cab rides, has announced two new ridesharing pilot programs in different parts of the continental United States. It's not the company's first foray into experimental ridesharing solutions, but it does show a continued dedication to them.
In addition to the already existing UberPool, which is exactly what it sounds like in that it's carpooling via Uber, the company is launching UberHop in Seattle and UberCommute in Chicago. Each of these are slightly different from the traditional Uber experience, UberPool, and each other.
UberHop begins Dec. 10 in Seattle and functions more or less like a kind of small bus. Commuters get paired with a driver as well as other commuters who are generally traveling in the same direction. Individual riders will then be assigned a nearby pickup location as well as a predetermined stop near their final destination. This also means there's a little more walking involved as it's not direct A to B service.
On the other hand, UberCommute is meant for both drivers and riders. Drivers can sign up for Uber in Chicago and turn on the app to participate in UberCommute on the days they're commuting to work. They'll then be paired with riders looking to go the same way. The way Uber's described it makes the pilot sound like it's just the one driver and one rider, but it's possible that's just an example.
According to Uber, the Chicago choice for piloting UberCommute boils down helping alleviate the congestion in the area. "I-90 recently earned the title of the 'nation's worst bottleneck,' costing area residents 16.9 million hours of wasted time and a staggering $418 million in lost productivity per year," reads the company's press release.
It's unclear just how long these pilot programs might last, and given their "pilot" nature they could end unexpectedly. For now, however, those from Seattle or Chicago who are interested in Uber have a few more options to play with.