Uber, the popular car-hailing service which is valued at $41 billion dollars, looks to give Los Angeles passengers a helping hand with a new feature.
UberPool, a carpooling service, began offering rides to those interested on Feb. 19. The ride-on-demand service operates in more than 200 U.S. cities and a few international locations, but only two of those cities — San Francisco and New York — have access to the carpooling feature.
That is, until now.
Los Angeles citizens are now able to group up with multiple customers who are going in the same direction to share a ride. The City of Angels will now become the third city in the U.S. where that option is available, and will possibly enjoy having their fares lowered by as much as 50 percent. In one of the most congested cities in America, UberPool will match two users per ride and allow each to have one person accompany them — for a total of four passengers.
UberPool is also offered internationally in Paris, France.
"Los Angeles is famous for a lot of things," said Eyal Gutentag, the general manager of Uber's Los Angeles branch, "not least of them is some of the worst traffic in the country. The idea behind UberPool is simple, but the implications are big. More people carpooling means fewer cars on the road, which means fewer emissions and less time stuck in traffic."
Lyft, a strong competitor of Uber's for the car-hailing throne, will begin offering Lyft Line in Los Angeles beginning in September. In addition, another Los Angeles car-taxi company called Sidecar plans to bring its Shared Rides carpooling feature to the city later in the year.
With both companies vying for passengers' love of the backseat, UberPool and Lyft Line are two attempts at fulfilling greener promises. While the idea behind both concepts aren't necessarily new by any stretch of the imagination, UberPool and Lyft Line do play into an effort to diversify the traditional U.S. taxi and limo industry. Through lowering fares and increasing the quality of service, UberPool and Lyft Line are representing an attention-grabbing shift in transportation that could impact not only the country, but the world at large.