If you're happy to share an Uber in Manhattan, from today you'll be able to grab a ride for $US5 ($7), maximum. But — and there had to be a but — you'll only be able to use the service during commuter hours and you may have to walk a little, too.
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Uber claims to have "redesigned" UberPOOL in Manhattan, though with a fair number of caveats. Now, between 7 — 10am and 5 — 8pm Monday through Friday, any UberPOOL ride starting and finishing south of 110th Street will be a $US5 ($7) flat fee. That's not the only catch: When you order a ride, you'll be told to walk to a nearby corner, and then you'll be dropped off at a corner near your destination. So, you may end up walking a few blocks.
The idea, Uber says, is to "make driving routes more direct, so you'll save time and arrive at your destination faster." Which may be true, but it also turns the service into something more akin to a small on-demand bus service than a taxi ride — a little like Boston's Bridj. Outside the flat-fee hours, the service will work just like it normally does.
The New York Post reports that drivers will be paid the usual UberPOOL rate, which is a little good news for an often uncared-for workforce. The scheme is said to be "in its pilot stage," so it may yet be tweaked or axed, but it will be interesting to see how how well it works in the meantime.