UberPool, a next-generation carpool service from San Francisco-based Uber, will arrive in Chicago in “a matter of weeks,” company chief adviser David Plouffe told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday.
UberPool, which allows drivers to pick up multiple riders headed in the same direction, launched in San Francisco in September 2014. It is also available in Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C., plus in Paris, Bangalore, Shanghai and other global cities.
“We’re going to bring our carpooling product, UberPool, to Chicago very soon, which will be two people and in some cases three people choosing to share a ride,” Plouffe said during a meeting with the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.
An Uber spokeswoman told Blue Sky Innovation that it would be available here before year-end.
Plouffe said drivers who pick up UberPool riders make more money because they are more “efficiently utilized” with multiple riders in the car at once. He said riders also save money since they are splitting the fare with other UberPoolers.
Plouffe said the benefits of UberPool are not limited to economics.
“Carpooling on scale can obviously be a pretty big impact on congestion and emissions,” said Plouffe, a former political strategist and the campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.
UberPool makes up 40% of all Uber rides in San Francisco, he said.
Lyft, Uber’s main domestic competitor, offers a carpooling product called Lyft Line, available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Austin, Texas. Asked when Lyft Line might come to Chicago, a Lyft spokeswoman told Blue Sky in an email: "Although we have not made plans to launch Lyft Line in Chicago at this time, Lyft Line is one of our top priorities, and we hope to launch it in many more cities in the future."
Plouffe acknowledged that making the system work in a city as sprawling as Chicago could be more difficult than in San Francisco. Even in the smaller city, he said, the company faced technical challenges in coordinating UberPool rides. He said the company put a “tremendous amount of R&D and engineering resources” into making the service more efficient.
Uber and other ride-hailing companies recently got approval from the city to pick up riders at the airports — for a $5-per-ride fee. They’re expected to get the green light to begin doing so this month.
Uber has 35,000 active drivers in Chicago who do at least four rides per month, plus 700,000 active riders here, Plouffe said.