UberPool experiences in Boston

I was one of the earliest UberPool ridesharing users in Boston, and liked the idea from the environmental perspective. Yes, the current régime of semi-forced Lyft Line and extremely strongly encouraged (drivers & riders) UberPool does not necessarily lead to more income for drivers. I will focus instead on experiences from the UberPool rider perspective.

Here are a few categories of experiences with UberPool in Boston. Since Uber experiences significant driver turnover rates and their policies particularly with regard to UberPool often change, consider the time elapsed since this writing.

Complaining Uber Pool Drivers

This problem of driver complaining to the rider has largely disappeared after summer 2016. However, in the first quarter of 2016, the percentage of UberPool drivers complaining about UberPool to the riders directly was perhaps as high as 30%. Particularly in a progressive town like Boston, the manipulation drove some riders into the waiting arms of Fasten.  Fasten ran early launch promotions of $5 for rides under 10 minutes.


After summer 2016, the jalopy rate on UberX and UberPool is very low, maybe 1%. Jalopies are cars with 200,000+ miles, rusted out, loud exhaust, even seat belts not working. Even the driver might not be buckled in due to choice or malfunction. The car make/model matches the Uber app, but maybe they snuck through by being a pre-2002 car since Massachusetts only requires emissions inspections on 2002 and newer cars.

Savvy drivers use the oldest piece of junk car that will pass because their TCO is much lower. Leasing an Uber Xchange car or using Uber to pay for a new car can be treading on dangerously thin financial waters, as it takes a particular skill set and savvy to show any profit as a ridesharing driver. It’s not just about hard work, being business smart is a substantial part of profiting or losing in ridesharing work.

Ignoring any pings after first

While this gets the rider to the destination faster, it makes wait times for other UberPool users longer and negates environmental benefits of UberPool. Naturally, Uber strongly discourages this trick, but after the April 21, 2016 settlement lost some teeth in fighting the ignoring Pool pings practice.

I have noticed since fall 2016, drivers seldom ignore subsequent Uber Pool pings.

Significant increase in total time for short trips

UberPool riders are generally pretty good about being “toes on curb” for pickup due to the two minute wait UberPool pickup policy. However, if the first rider is on a ten minute trip, by the time the driver diverts to pickup and gets back on track to the destination (remember the second rider might get dropped off first!) that 10 minutes might well stretch into 15, 18, or even 20 minutes. Just be sure when in a hurry that you don’t use the default UberPool if you can’t afford the delay.