A new service by a global transportation network company could cut traffic, reduce pollution and make cab rides cheaper when it launches in the UAE.
American firm Uber – inventors of a mobile app that uses your smartphone’s GPS to detect your location and connects you with the nearest available Uber driver – is planning to introduce its carpool feature in the UAE.
With UberPool – Uber’s in-app carpool option – commuters share rides and split the cost with another person who requests a ride along a similar route.
Jambu Palaniappan, Uber’s regional general manager for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, told 7DAYS: “Imagine Sheikh Zayed Road during rush hour with half the cars. The way we’re going about that is a product called UberPool. Instead of each person taking their own car, what if we could aggregate demand of customers so multiple customers could share one car? The driver always has a passenger, or passengers, in the car, drivers earn relatively more, and customers – because of that efficiency – pay less.”
UberPool is already live in close to 15 cities including San Francisco, New York, Paris, Bangalore and Mexico City.
“It’s been really, really, incredible the growth that we’ve seen out of it. Now in San Francisco, over 50 per cent of Uber trips are on UberPool,” Palaniappan said.
The exec refused to disclose an exact launch date but he said passengers could expect the service “very soon”.
“We haven’t fully dug into what it could look like. We’ll do our diligence and make sure that we’re compliant with any rules and regulations,” he added.
Palaniappan also clarified conflicting reports that Uber has been facing troubles with the Roads and Transport Authority.
“Uber is fully compliant with all RTA licensing and regulations. We’ve got a really positive relationship with the RTA and are excited about the future of our partnership together,’ he said.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Energy deregulated fuel prices in the UAE saying the change is “expected to rationalise the use of vehicles, thus reduce the intensity of traffic and cut emissions as well as encourage the usage of public transport as an alternative to individual vehicles”.
But Sultan Al Marzouqi, director of Drivers’ Licensing at the RTA Licensing Agency, told 7DAYS last month that Dubai’s clogged up roads are getting busier with the number of cars expected to increase by 10 per cent – from 1.5 million to 1.65 million – before 2016.
The transport sector was responsible for 22 per cent of the total greenhouse emissions in the UAE in 2013 – 44.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.