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Uber's carpool service sacrifices convenience for efficiency in NYC (updated)

Uber Pool in NYC will work more like public transit.
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Barcroft via Getty Images

In the wake of its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 2017 (yup, and it's only just May), Uber has been doing a lot of work to improve its service. As an extension of the "smart pickup points" trial from London and other cities last year, the ride-hailing company is augmenting the Uber Pool service in Manhattan, enhancing the option's awareness of more direct routes and bus lanes. "After realizing that a short walk could save people both time and money, we knew we were onto something," the outfit writes in a blog post. "Our data was starting to show that we could pick more people up and get riders to their destinations faster."

The idea is to make Uber Pool rides as fast and direct as possible. That means setting pickup points past a busy traffic light on the righthand side of the road to make things less stressful for drivers, avoiding bus lanes and less zig-zagging along the way. More than that, the app will analyze the route along the way (every few seconds, apparently) and recalculate the drop-off point to maximize efficiency versus setting a static destination when you get in the car.

Uber says that all of this has resulted in routes that have 20 percent fewer turns, and, as a result, are faster, saving you time and money. This makes a lot of sense for a place like Manhattan, and maybe we could see some of these additions trickle down to smaller cities as well.

Is it as convenient as getting picked up at your front door and being delivered in front of your destination? No, but unless you're extremely lucky, subways and bus stops don't really work that way either. And hey, it's not like walking is unhealthy or anything.

This post was updated with added clarification for what's new for UberPool in NYC and what was in testing.

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