By Tina Bellon
(Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc on Tuesday said it was resuming shared rides, which were scrapped during the pandemic, detailing a revamped offer aimed at reducing the previously high losses in the pooled rides segment.
Uber said the new shared rides option, which allows strangers to split a car traveling in the same direction, started piloting in Miami on Tuesday, with no firm plans yet for a U.S. expansion.
Previous known as Uber Pool, the new UberX Share offers a 5% upfront discount compared to a regular ride, Uber said on its website. That is a more modest price reduction than Uber Pool rides, which in the past offered rides at as much as half the fare of a private ride.
Passengers booking a shared ride can now earn additional discounts in Uber credit, not cash, if another rider joins their trip. They receive a minimum of $2 and up to 30% of the price in Uber credit if a co-rider joins.
Previously, passengers paid a pool rate regardless of whether they ended up sharing the ride. This allowed many passengers to book a discounted ride without ever having to actually share the trip. Chicago city data showed that some 25% to 40% of all requested shared trips did not end up being shared pre-pandemic.
Shared rides only made up a small percentage of pre-pandemic rides and Uber in the past said it was losing “significant sums” due to heavy shared ride discounts.
Smaller U.S. rival Lyft Inc in July resumed its shared rides offer.
Both companies halted the option in March 2020 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and both require drivers and customers to wear masks. They also limit shared rides to a total of two passengers who are requested to sit in the backseat.
(Reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin, Texas; Editing by Alistair Bell)