uberPOOL was just launched last week in Singapore and unlike GrabHitch, the new carpooling service by Uber allows you to elect the option to carpool when using the uberX service. I decided to put it to the test the last weekend and perhaps it could be that the system is relatively new but it was an absolute disaster - my ride took way longer than it should even though Uber claims that it doesn't matter whether 'you’re first or second into the car, Uber ensures that you’re never taken more than a few minutes out of your way'.
As I was heading down to One Fullerton on the weekend, I decided to open up my Uber app and select the uberX option. Upon entering my destination, I was given the option to choose between uberPOOL or uberX at S$11.50 or S$15.28 (and up) respectively. Since I thought I was slightly early and I really wanted to try out the new feature, I decided to go for the former option which saves me at least S$3.78 (almost 25% off!).
Once I have been assigned a car, the app says that I would be carpooling with Gerry and I was actually able to see that the vehicle was actually picking her up (do note that the screen grab says S$12 instead of the previous S$11.50 - similar to uberX prices, uberPOOL prices are also subjected to price surges). Upon entering the vehicle, I met Gerry (who turned out to be a really friendly lady) and my uberPOOL driver who was brilliant as well. However, it was then that I realised that Gerry was not actually headed towards the same direction as me.
A ride that would generally take me 20 minutes to get to now showed me 42 minutes - this is more than DOUBLE of what it should generally take. The red spot that you see on the map is where Gerry was actually headed - it was then that all three of us realised how poor the planning actually is. Instead of going straight to One Fullerton, the poor uberPOOL driver has to make a detour to Serangoon before taking a traffic-heavy route to my destination.
In fact, once Gerry got off the vehicle, Uber actively searches for another rider along the way (or so they claim) to share the ride (as shown in the screen grab above). In my case, I was lucky enough to not have encountered another uberPOOL rider but if for example, someone else have requested for a ride from Serangoon to One Fullerton (or nearby), the uberPOOL driver would have had to make yet another detour to pick the second passenger up.
uberPOOL is a great idea but the implementation is definitely far from perfect. I understand that I am indeed getting a discount (almost 25% as mentioned earlier) with the service but the ride durations fall way off Uber's estimates of '[not] more than a few minutes'. Will I pay S$3.78 to save at least 22 minutes of my journey time? Absolutely yes.