Money walks! Uber offers discounted carpool rides to locals who skip door-to-door service

Cheaper rides: Uber bigwigs recently rolled out a discounted Uber Pool option to customers who book rides in Brooklyn.
Associated Press / Mary Altaffer

Kings County Uber users willing to walk a couple blocks to catch their next carpool ride can now save a few bucks on their commutes.

Executives at the ride-hailing company instituted the new policy with the hope of decreasing travel time overall while allowing drivers to pick up more fares, according to a spokeswoman.

“The idea is it makes the trip time shorter,” said Alix Anfang. “The driver is now on a more direct route, they don’t have to go around the block.”

The discount, which debuted on Oct. 25, is available to locals who carpool using the Uber Pool service, and offers an average of 15 percent off those trips if riders walk several blocks to meet their driver, and a few more blocks following drop-off to reach their final destination.

Recent Uber Pool requests made from this newspaper’s Downtown headquarters at MetroTech Center, for instance, offered the discount in exchange for this reporter meeting drivers somewhere within a two-block radius of the office, and quoted fares that saved roughly $6 on a trip to LaGuardia Airport, roughly $4 on a trip to John F. Kennedy Airport, and just more than $3 on a ride to the Third Avenue Costco in Sunset Park.

But customers who book an Uber Pool to pick them up in Brooklyn will still get to choose between a more expensive, door-to-door commute, or a cheaper ride they have to walk to and from when booking any trip, Anfang said.

The choice, however, is not available to Brooklynites looking to share a ride home from most of Manhattan, according to Anfang, who said all Uber Pool passengers that request service below 125th Street in the outer borough now must walk to meet their chauffeurs.

The company — which earlier this year expanded its suite of services for getting around locally by purchasing Brooklyn-based bicycle maker Jump, whose electric-pedal-assist and dockless bikes rolled into outer boroughs this summer as part of a pilot program testing the technology — brought its discounted Uber Pool option to Brooklyn as part of a citywide rollout of the scheme, which requires customers use the latest version of the Uber app in order to access the discounted service.

The new Uber Pool policy is partly a stab at Mayor DeBlasio, Anfang admitted, after Hizzoner in August signed a bill prohibiting the Taxi and Limousine Commission from licensing any more for-hire vehicles on city roads for the next year, as officials study congestion and develop a plan to regulate those licenses going forward.

“Uber won’t leave riders in the outer boroughs stranded, despite Mayor DeBlasio’s attempt to limit Uber, one of the few reliable options for outer-borough riders who have been ignored by yellow taxis and underserved by mass transit,” she said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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