Uber is launching two new pilot services in Seattle and Chicago. According to a Uber blog post, uberHOP is a bus-like service and uberCOMMUTE is a carpooling service. The uberHOP pilot started in Seattle on Thursday, December 10 and basically sounds like a privatized bus service. Here’s how Uber says it works:

  • Open the app and select uberHOP. Choose a route and request an uberHOP.
  • We’ll pair you up with a driver as well as other commuters traveling in the same direction. You’ll then get directions on where and when to catch your ride.
  • Using those directions, walk to your pickup location where a driver and your fellow commuters will meet you. You’ll need to be on time as your uberHOP driver will leave promptly.
  • At the end of your journey, you’ll be dropped off at a pre-destined stop so you can walk the last few blocks to work.

UberCOMMUTE, the pilot launching in Chicago, is a little different. This project is for drivers who don’t mind picking up passengers headed to a similar location. It will be available in the Chicago area during the workweek from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Here’s how Uber says it works:

  • If you want to share your commute, sign up with Uber and we’ll check your driver’s license and driving record. On the days you’re driving to work and want to share the ride, switch on the app and we’ll pair you up with someone going the same way.
  • If you’re a passenger switch on the app and select uberPOOL, choose the “commuters” option and then enter your pickup location as well as your destination. Uber will then pair you up with a fellow commuter on the way to or from work so you can share the cost of the journey.
  • We will have standard Uber safety features on during and after the ride, like GPS tracking, share my ETA, and 2-way feedback.

Both pilot programs are supposed to make commuting more efficient and less taxing on the individual and the community. UberPool, yet another program with a different name that helps people going in the same direction at the same time share a ride, is already in place in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Uber says that the program has already impacted the two cities in positive ways (including cutting down on miles driven and lessening carbon dioxide pollution.) We'll have to wait and see how the new programs work in Seattle and Chicago.

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