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Uber revives shared rides in U.S. for first time during pandemic

Uber launches new services
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on company's future, new services 05:31

Uber is letting passengers share rides with strangers again, after putting the option on pause for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic

The rebranded feature, called UberX Share, is available in nine U.S. cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Portland, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, and will soon be expanded to more locations, Uber said in a statement Tuesday. 

Here is how it works: Uber riders can get a discount on their total fare if they opt to share their ride with another passenger who is heading in the same direction. Select UberX Share, and you automatically get a discount on the cost of the ride. In other words, the fare you are shown is cheaper than what the cost of an UberX ride would be. If your driver picks up another rider along the way, the price will drop even further, earning you up to 20% off the total cost of the trip.

Uber also pledges to not add more than eight additional minutes onto your ride by picking up a co-rider. 

Uber said its goal is to make rides more affordable and ultimately to limit personal car ownership. It also referred to the shared ride feature as a customer favorite that in the past has led to "spontaneous singalongs" and new connections. 

Rideshare competitor Lyft, which also suspended shared rides during the pandemic, brought them back to Philadelphia and Miami last year. It also has plans to expand the service option to San Francisco; San Jose, California; Denver; Las Vegas and Atlanta. 

Uber has dropped other pandemic-era precautionary measures, like its mask mandate for drivers. In April, both Uber and Lyft said riders and drivers would no longer be required to wear masks in vehicles. Uber added that riders who feel uncomfortable in the presence of unmasked drivers may cancel their trips. An Uber spokesperson said that if riders cancel trips because they do not feel safe, in general, they are eligible for a full refund of any cancellation fee they incur. But they must first contact the company's cancellation support team and explain why they declined to take the trip. 

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