This post is sponsored by Uber.
Uber asked me to try their new service, Express POOL. Have you heard of it? I had seen the Express POOL option in the app, but didn’t know anything about it, so I was curious to learn more. For the last week or so, I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to give Express POOL a try, and on Saturday, the opportunity arrived.
Maude wanted me to go look at apartments with her near campus, but Olive was using one car, and Ben Blair was using the other. Mostly, sharing two cars works well for us, but with four drivers at home (Ralph will make #5 when he gets back in a couple weeks), there are times when I need to running errands, and there isn’t a car in the driveway to use. On Saturday, when I realized we didn’t have a car available, I thought: Ding! Ding! Ding! The perfect time to try Express POOL.
I told Maude about it — and that I wanted to try it — and she looked at me with confusion. Then she said, “Mom. Yes, I know about Express POOL. How do you think I’ve been getting from Berkeley to our house for 4 bucks?”
Hahaha! I mean, OF COURSE she knew about Express POOL. As I was about to discover, it’s so perfect for college students, or for anyone who is watching their budget, doesn’t mind walking a couple of blocks, and has a flexible timeframe. Maude said that for her, it’s less expensive to use ExpressPOOL than it is to use public transit to get from college to home, but a whole lot more convenient, and takes a fraction of the time.
So I said, “Maude, this is perfect. You take me through each step, and I’ll write a tutorial.” And that’s what we did. Here’s a step-by-step Express POOL How-to, featuring me and Maude and our excursion to campus.
Running Errands With Express POOL:
Step 1: Open your Uber app, put in your destination (I put in Sather Gate, which is a Berkeley Campus landmark) and choose Express POOL.
When I opened my app, it listed three options — Express POOL for $4.93, uberPOOL for $7.95, and uberX for $11.73. I typically use uberX, so Express POOL was a big savings in comparison.
Step 2: Confirm your pick up area.
The app will show a circle that encompasses a few blocks, with your current location at the center of the circle. With Express POOL, you’ll be assigned a pick up spot somewhere within that circle, so you may need to walk a couple of blocks in order to meet your car.
Step 3: Choose how many seats you’ll need.
With Express POOL, you can choose one or two riders. We chose two (obviously). With two riders, the price went up a bit to $5.75.
Step 4: Wait a few minutes for instructions, and then walk to your assigned pick up point.
The app will take a beat to find a car that’s already headed close to where you want to go. It will show you exactly where you’ll be picked up, and give you an ETA on when the Uber will arrive there. Plan on heading out immediately to the designated location.
For me and Maude, we walked about a block to our pick up spot, and the car arrived about a minute later.
The app let us know the car was arriving, and that there was already another passenger too. Express POOL allows for multiple passengers on stream-lined paths. So you’ll probably have another passenger (or two) in the car with you for at least some part of your drive.
Step 5: Get in the car.
Since there was already one co-rider in the back seat, and we didn’t want to make the back seat feel crowded, Maude rode in the back, and I rode in the front.
Step 7: Sit back and relax until you reach your drop-off point.
Once we were in the car, the drive to Berkeley took the usual path that we would have taken with uberX, or if we’d driven ourselves. The only difference was that on the way, the car pulled over at the drop off point for the other co-rider. It felt just as quick as usual, but more efficient because more people were getting a ride.
Step 8: Check your drop-off point.
The app gave me an alert when we were a few minutes away from the drop-off point. The map showed me exactly where we’d be dropped off, and how far we would need to walk from the drop-off point in order to reach our destination.
Step 9: Exit the car and walk to your destination.
We didn’t have to walk far — about a block. And ta da! We arrived at Sather Gate. And the ride was less than $3 per person. A total bargain.
Once we reached the campus, we looked at the bulletin boards for apartment listings, picked up a Berkeley newspaper, and Maude showed me the lawless circle that extends into space.
She also gave me a few more Express POOL tips and tricks. I asked her how flexible she needed to be time-wise when she used Express POOL, and she said it wasn’t a big deal. She said she usually waits a couple a minutes to get pick-up location instructions, and then has to walk two or three blocks. There are usually a few stops along the way for pickups or drop offs. Easy peasy.
I also asked the driver-partner who picked us up for his advice on using Express POOL. He said the main thing is not to confuse Express POOL and uberPOOL. With uberPOOL, you’ll get door-to-door service, but with Express POOL, you’ll need to walk a bit — both to get picked up, and after you’re dropped off. He said sometimes, riders pick the cheapest option, but are confused that they aren’t getting dropped off at their exact destination, and he has to explain that they chose Express POOL instead of uberPOOL. : )
My take on using Express POOL? It’s a total bargain! It’s very close in price to public transportation, but much more convenient — because it can go to infinitely more destinations than a train system or bus route. And if you miss your bus or train, you don’t have to wait for the next one. You have way more control of the timing.
Personally, I can imagine using Express POOL for running errands whenever I don’t have a car available. If you don’t mind walking a bit, and you’re not in a super rush, it seems like a really smart way to go — and it would be hard to beat the price.
Have you tried Express POOL for running errands yet? Or have your older kids? And how do you manage cars at your house as you add drivers? Do your teens have their own car? Or do you all share? If your kids have a job, do they drive there? Get dropped off by you? Use a bike or public transit? I always love hearing how different families handle stuff like that.
Lastly, anyone else out there with a college kid who is apartment hunting? Sending a fist bump in solidarity. : )
Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.