UberCommute carpooling service launched in China

Virtual cab-hailing service Uber has launched an intriguing new pilot scheme in China.

UberCommute allows ordinary people setting off on a long drive to pick up passengers along the way and thus split the costs of the trip. It’s carpooling, in other words, but with added convenience.

All drivers need to do is sign into the app and tell Uber where they are going. Uber will then show the driver any requests from passengers heading in the same direction, along with the payment they’ll receive for the journey. It’s up to the driver whether they choose to accept any of these requests or not.

From the the other end, it’s very much Uber as usual – it’s just that the passenger’s ride will be a regular Joe rather than a proper cab driver.

This is the first time Uber has launched a global product outside of the US. The company says that it has chosen Chengdu in China for this latest pilot scheme “because of the tremendous appetite amongst Chinese drivers and riders for creative new ways to get from A to B, affordably and reliably.”

Uber hopes to bring its congestion-busting new service to other cities in future, but there don’t appear to be any solid plans.

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As the company points out, Uber itself contributes to the congestion and wastefulness inherent in the daily commute. “In many cities, such as San Francisco, New York, Chengdu or Paris, so many people now use Uber that there are a ton of duplicate rides,” it explains.

Smoosh those rides together, and what do you get? UberCommute, Uber hopes.

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