New test fares being rolled out by Uber in select markets are making the ride-sharing service all new kinds of cheap. A beta program being tested in a few chosen cities scrap surge pricing and charging per-mile in favor of a flat fare for UberPool that’s the same price as a bus ticket.
According to an email seen by Business Insider UK, pricing in San Francisco is a pack of 20 rides for $20, or 40 rides for $30. On top of that base fee, you then pay $2 per ride. So, on the lower pricing, you’re paying $3 per ride for an UberPool trip.
Journeys can be taken within an eligible zone, so you’re not going to be able to use it to take trips from one city to the next. But it provides a good alternative to public transportation that is about the same price (but more convenient) for users.
Of course, it’s just a test right now. San Francisco, Miami, San Diego, Boston, Seattle, and Washington, DC appear to be taking part in a test just for September, after which Uber will reevaluate. Only the company knows if it will make money with the flat fee approach. Given that it lost $1.27 billion in the first half of the year, there is zero guarantee that the flat fares would be profitable.
But for Uber, profit matters less than providing competition for every other mass transportation system. Uber started as an alternative to black cars, before expanding to UberX and taking on regular taxis. With flat-fare UberPool rides, it’s clear that buses and trains are the next thing to go, before it turns its attentions to the Uber drivers themselves.