Uber Commute Expands into Montgomery County

Uber is rolling out a new product for drivers and passengers in Montgomery County that aims to enlist daily commuters.

The ride-for-hire company announced Monday it’s launching Uber Commute in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties after piloting it in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., over the summer.

The Commute program allows drivers taking their daily route to work to connect with and pick up a person who pays for the ride once they reach their destination. Uber describes the service as a way for drivers to make extra money by providing rides to people traveling in the same direction.

Passengers must enter their home and work information in the app before they can be picked up by a driver. Drivers determine if it makes sense to drive a passenger to a destination as they make their own way to work. Drivers need to enter their normal commuting schedule, including their home and work addresses, as well as their daily commute times.

The company said in a press release Monday that about 14,000 commuters—drivers and passengers—have entered their information into the Commute service to try the new carpool option.

Passengers typically pay $5 to $10 per ride, according to Uber spokesman Bill Gibbons. The price varies based on the cost to drivers, such as for gas, parking or if drivers must travel outside of their typical route to pick up and drop someone off.

Gibbons said Uber is promoting the service as a way for drivers offset their expenses to get to and from work.

He noted that Commute trips can start and end in Montgomery County, where there’s less urban density—or also start in Montgomery County and end in Northern Virginia or D.C. However, the company does not allow Commute trips to start and end in D.C., where Gibbons says there’s more density and the city is already served by UberX and UberPool.

The company does not review or conduct background checks on drivers for Commute in the same way it would with its regulated services. Gibbons said Uber provides some insurance to drivers, but the experience is modeled after casual carpooling.

“It’s meant to match people conveniently,” Gibbons said.

He called it a digital version of sluglining—a D.C.-area tradition in which suburban drivers, typically in Northern Virginia, pick up passengers on their way to work to take advantage of faster high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.

Both images of Uber Commute via Uber

As featured in Bethesda Magazine