WASHINGTON — Ride-sharing giant Uber is unveiling a new carpooling option for local commuters in the coming weeks.
Uber announced late last week that it is testing a new feature called Uber Commute that will attempt to match suburban drivers with similar routes in what the company likens to digital slug lines; a virtual queue within the company’s app instead of a physical queue along a curb.
“Even though it’s a pilot, we’re pretty excited about the potential and we want to see if people are interested in this other option,” said Bill Gibbons, spokesperson for Uber Technologies.
Uber Commute will only be available for specific routes in the D.C. metro area at first, appealing mainly to downtown commuters who reside in Virginia. The pilot is targeted at drivers who use Interstate 66, Interstate 395 or the George Washington Parkway during rush hours.
“The concept behind this is to give folks other options, match people that are going in the same direction, do a little bit to take some vehicles off the road and reduce congestion. Also, you get the added benefit of commuting with your neighbors and co-workers by using those speedy HOV lanes. We think that’s a win for the city,” Gibbons said.
Sign-up for current users is underway and Uber said rides will start in the coming weeks.
The company also said rides will be scheduled in advance, with most users connected to their drivers the night before their commute.
Drivers will be able to download a special Uber Commute app that will list nearby commuters in need of rides.
Carpool Apps helping drivers hitch rides already exist such as CarPoolNow and Sluglines.