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Miami-Dade to get new Uber carpool service

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

Uber is taking the next big step in trying to break Miami-Dade’s growing traffic congestion.

On Thursday, the San Francisco-based ride-sharing tech company launches uberPOOL, a next-generation carpool service that matches passengers going in the same direction, while allowing them to split the cost of the ride.

Ryan Graves, Uber’s Senior Vice President and Head of Global Operations, says that Miami-Dade will be one of the “handful of U.S. communities” to test market uberPOOL, in an effort to “impact riders, drivers and local congestion.”

According to the Uber blog, carpooling “adds only a few minutes, and you both save big.” Costs for the service can be as much as 50 percent less than those of a standard UberX, while helping to reduce traffic and pollution.

“UberPOOL will become an important supplement to Miami’s transportation system,” Graves said. “Launching uberPOOL in Miami is a step in the right direction toward fulfilling our vision for the future that looks a whole lot greener, cleaner, and more efficient thanks to fewer cars and more shared rides.”

The announcement was made as part of a presentation the South Miami Wheels Conference, which highlights advances in the future of mobility. In Miami, studies found, 90 percent of commuters drive alone, creating some of the nation’s worst traffic. Highway congestion wastes as much as 200 million hours and more than 90 million gallons of gas. Delays cost an average commuter as much as $1,000 each, and $4,444,000,000 has been lost due to the city’s congestion.

“There is no doubt the massive traffic issues in South Florida have a negative economic impact. Eventually, the hope is that uberPOOL will help Miami-Dade seamlessly move the influx of visitors around the city while ultimately relieving congestion by reducing the number of cars on the road,” said Uber South Florida General Manager Kasra Moshkani. “We’re looking to riders and driver-partners to help us test uberPOOL in Miami-Dade, and be part of the next stage of urban transportation.”

UberPOOL began in San Francisco in September 2014. It is now available in Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C., as well as Paris, Bangalore, Shanghai and other international cities.

Last week, Uber drivers in the Miami-Dade area were emailed notifications of the new service, which gives them the opportunity to maximize earnings on longer trips, and with less downtime between passengers.

“When drivers are able to operate more efficiently,” the email said, “the cost for riders drops dramatically.”

After Thursday’s official launch, Uber will be requesting feedback from the first group of uberPOOL riders, with the goal of fine-tuning the service so it meets similar standards set for other Uber products.

Uber officials say that during October alone, uberPOOL has saved nearly 400,000 miles of driving in Los Angeles, nearly 50,000 gallons of gas in San Francisco — where nearly half of all trips are now uberPOOL — and avoided nearly 300,000 tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere in Boston.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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