If you’ve been following this blog for a while and have read any of my Money Diaries, you’ll know I take Uber all the time. When I first moved from New York to San Francisco, the first thing I noticed was the difference in the availability of public transit. Unlike New York, the bus, rail, and subway systems in San Francisco have longer wait times, are further apart, and never seem to totally go where you need it to without at least 1 transfer. Not to mention it’s pricey, and there are no flat rate passes that go everywhere. It was like transit culture shock when I moved here.
So I asked my friend the second day I was here “How do you get around here?” He said, “You just Uber/Lyft everywhere.” He was dead serious.
I looked at my budget’s transportation category and it had blown up since moving to the Bay Area. Especially after I moved to Oakland, which is across the bay, I was regularly spending over $200 a month on Uber/Lyft! I live about a 30 minute walk from the BART, but I do live near 3 bus lines. I quickly learned that 2/3 bus lines actually stop running after 7, and the 3rd bus left every 30 minutes after 8pm. This 3rd bus left from the Transbay Terminal which was always at least a 20 min BART/other bus away from where I happened to be in San Francisco.
Then one day, I was talking to my coworker who also happens to live across the bay, and he told me about this too-good-to-be-true thing called the Uber Ride Pass. I had never heard of it before! It almost sounded like an urban legend. He told me the Uber Ride Pass allowed him to consistently pay $2.99 for uberPools and $6.50 for Ubers.
I asked him how he had heard about it, and he said he had gotten some email invitation to buy one. I searched my email but came up with nothing, and I asked him to forward me the invitation. When I clicked through the button to buy one, it said that all the ride passes had sold out, but I could sign up to be notified when they were available again. One day, I happened to see the email from Uber about signing up for one and immediately snatched one up.
The Way It Works
Uber gives you the option to pay up front for the ride pass, as of October 2017 when I bought my last flat rate pass, I paid $12 up front for a pass that lasted 28 days.
This pass gives me $3.49 uberPools (shared Uber rides with riders going to similar destinations) covering up to $15 of a normal uberPool fare, and it gives me $6.99 uberXs (the lowest tier private car) covering up to $20 of a normal uberX fare. If my fare is higher than the amount covered by the pass, Uber will charge me the difference.
After your first ride pass purchase, you’ll see a new Ride Pass menu item in your app where you can renew your pass, see your savings, as well as see the Ride Pass coverage map. The Ride Pass applies to a targeted area, so there won’t be flat rate rides if you are traveling out of the area, for example.
What Is It Good For?
For me, the pass is great for commuting from SF to Oakland late at night because the majority of the time, it ends up being just a few dollars more than the BART + Transbay Bus combination. It also saves me so much time not waiting for each leg of a public transit trip. Lately, the uberPools from SF to Oakland have been within the $15 Ride Pass limit, so it actually only costs $3.49 to go across the bay. The Transbay Bus fare is $4.50! The price of a non ride pass regular uberPool can range from $12-$20 on a weeknight.
The ride pass has also been amazing for sharing rides. UberPools allow you to take 1 extra person with you, but without the ride pass, the fare is usually a little higher when you request a Pool for 2 people. With the Ride Pass, even tacking on an extra rider ends up being the same price! Split between 2 people, taking a Pool with the Ride Pass is actually cheaper than taking BART or the bus.
With the Ride Pass, you can also go farther for the same price. Usually, the rate Uber charges is based on how far you’re going and how many riders are in the areas you’re traveling to/from. The more people requesting Ubers from one area, the higher the price. If I take an uberPool without the Ride Pass, I can generally pay $4-5 to go somewhere a 30 minute walk away from me, but if I want to go somewhere just a little further, it can quickly bump up the fare to $10-$12! The Ride Pass pretty much guarantees I can go wherever I’d like for the same price.
Who Is It Not Good For?
The Ride Pass wouldn’t be great for someone who doesn’t frequently take Uber and has tons of other affordable public transit options (or owns a car). Since you have to pay up front for the pass, there’s definitely more savings if you use it more, decreasing the average cost per ride.
The Ride Pass also wouldn’t work well if the rides you generally take aren’t very long distances or expensive. I take uberPools back to Oakland 1-2 times a week, which would cost me at least $12 each time (usually more), so it’s completely worth it in a reduced high fare case. You want to make sure the Ride Pass is covering rides that would normally cost close to $10 at least.
How Do I Get One?
After doing some research, I’ve discovered that the Ride Passes are a pretty limited release, and it’s only available to a limited set of riders in certain cities. I met a woman who worked at Uber last week, and she had actually never even met anyone who had one!
But the easiest way to try and get one would be to sign up to be notified for one. I’ve attempted to track down all the sign up links here!
- San Francisco
- New York
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- Washington D.C.
- New Orleans
Look out for an email like the one below. These emails usually go to the Promotions tab of Gmail, so make sure you’re looking for it. When I signed up, flat rate uberPools were $2.99:
Have you been able to get your hands on an elusive Ride Pass, and has it been a good buy? Let me know if you have any other questions about the Ride Pass below!