Uber Express vs. Uber Pool and Lyft Line

Ridesharing pricing depends on numerous factors, one of the most important being supply vs. demand. Prima facie this is a hallmark of ridesharing, that it’s far easier to catch a rideshare car vs. a cab in general, particularly when conditions are “busy” in the rider’s vicinity.

What’s new

Uber Express Pool imposes a ≤ 2 minute wait before the pickup spot is chosen, that the rider needs to walk to. This was beta-tested a few months ago in Boston for regular Uber Pool, I thought it was a good choice. In Boston, it’s difficult to judge what’s the best pickup/dropoff point for a rider like myself who just wants to expedite the trip, due to the many one-way streets and boulevards. This wait ramps up the probability of picking up other riders with overlapping travel. It’s essentially a free parameter to vary. So far, essentially all of my Uber Express pool trips have been shared rides, with a much higher chance of having two other riders instead of just one other rider. Previous analysis has shown that Uber really needs three Pool riders to make the service pay off.

The dropoff likewise is within a block of your requested dropoff point. Sometimes the dropoff will be around a left or right turn when it could have instead dropped the rider off on the previous street just at the intersection. This is bad when it makes the rider cross traffic, when it would have been easier to just drop off before the turn. I think this is something that is fixable, and I’m sure they realize it’s an issue already.

Extreme cases

  • Uber Express Pool sometimes 50% less (half price) vs. Lyft Line.
  • Lyft Line sometimes 42% less than Uber Express Pool.

It is worth noting that the Uber Express Pool pricing (< $4 for 3 mile ride) have been seen in 2016, when Uber was placing pricing pressure to increase Uber Pool participation. For the first year or so of Uber Pool in Boston, > 80 % of my Uber Pool rides were solo. After the heavily subsidized $3 Uber Pool rides went on for a few months, Uber Pool participation skyrocketed, to where maybe 15 % of my Uber Pool rides are solo.

Driver perspective

For the driver, Uber Express Pool can be better than regular Uber Pool, as the rider pickup/dropoff location is controllable, so that pickup/dropoff locations can be safer and more efficient for the driver. The driver is not told that the rider is Uber Express Pool. That is, the driver of an UberX vehicle sees from the Uber driver app that the rider is either:

  • UberX
  • UberPool (silently includes Express Pool)