TORONTO — Uber’s rush hour ride-sharing service UberPOOL allows passengers travelling together to split their fare, but sometimes deviates from a direct route and takes more time than public transit.
Four separate Global News employees used UberPOOL for a week to get to and from work and each had different experiences and opinions.
“I would use it sparingly,” Ben Simpson said.
“I did the breakdown and it would cost me about double to take it every day versus the TTC.”
Simpson was travelling 16 kilometres in each direction and, on average, he would pick up one other person. It took him approximately 30 minutes one-way, versus an hour using the bus, subway and streetcar.
The cost for using UberPOOL is a $6 flat rate no matter the number of passengers picked up along the route, compared to a one-way fare of $3.25 for transit.
Suzette Francis was making her way from East York to Don Mills and shared her ride with two passengers. Twenty-minutes would be her average travel time compared to a TTC trip of 30 minutes.
“Overall, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” Francis said.
“You do have to give yourself lots of time when you’re planning to take UberPOOL because you never know how many passengers are going to be riding with you.”
The experience coming and going from the downtown core near King Street and University Avenue seemed to be the most enjoyable and convenient for Emanuela Campanella.
She would spend just 30 minutes in a car on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway whereas public transit would be twice the amount time on a bus and the subway for nearly half the cost.
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“I think I would consider taking UberPOOL on a regular basis,” Campanella said. “Especially during the wintertime when it’s the worst waiting for a bus.”
UberPOOL was officially launched in January of this year as an alternative to UberX, after being tested during the Pan Am Games in the summer of 2015. The service is now available in more than 45 cities around the world.
Everything that could go wrong seemingly did for Andrew Russell, who had a number of drivers cancel his trip before he even got into a vehicle.
“I think that was reflected most in the directions they took,” Russell said. “They made some odd decisions during rush hour at 4:30 in the afternoon in downtown Toronto.”
Every ride during the course of the week took at least an hour when the TTC would have normally been just 45 minutes on average.
Russell was given a $2 discount on his $6 fare on a couple of occasions but would still rate UberPOOL 4 or 5 out of 10.
When contacted, Uber Canada spokesperson Susie Heath was unable to provide any statistics on how much UberPOOL is used in Toronto at this point.
As for improving the service, the company has just announced an initiative to create its own maps to try and help cars and potential passengers find each other better.
The aim would be to cut down the amount of time taken for pick up and drop so others in the vehicle don’t have to wait as long.