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Uber will soon let riders book a shuttle to the airport

By Clare Duffy, CNN

New York (CNN) — Uber wants to make it cheaper to get a ride to the airport, concerts or sporting events.

The rideshare company on Wednesday announced the launch of Uber Shuttle, an offering that will let users book up to five seats in a shuttle from a central location to an event or the airport – for less than the cost of a regular Uber ride. The cost of the shuttle rides won’t be affected by surge pricing, a common affliction when lots of people are looking for rides at the same time.

Riders can book their space on the shuttles, which will hold between 14 and 55 seats, up to a week in advance and will receive a QR code ticket to board. Uber plans to partner with local shuttle companies with commercially licensed drivers to facilitate the offering, but users will be able to rate and tip drivers within the Uber app like with any other ride.

Uber has previously rolled out early shuttle tests, including in India, and as an offering for corporate customers. The feature will roll out to US consumers this summer for event venues in select cities, including Chicago, Pittsburgh, Charlotte and Miami, with plans to expand more broadly in the coming months.

The Uber Shuttle announcement was one of several new features announced at the company’s annual product update Wednesday, which also include a discounted Uber One membership program for students and the ability for Uber Eats users to order from Costco even if they don’t have a membership for the big box retailer.

Taken together, the announcements are designed to give people even more reasons to use its products, while focusing on affordability with group rides and other discounted offerings. The strategy comes at a time when consumers are pulling back on spending in the face of higher prices for a range of goods, from groceries to clothing. The diversification of Uber’s business beyond traditional ride hailing has also helped it maintain its leadership position over rival Lyft.

“The simple act of sharing, whether it’s rides or groceries, makes your every day just a little bit cheaper,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said at the company’s Wednesday product event in New York City.

Also among Uber’s Wednesday announcements is a feature designed for caregivers, which will let them book rides, order groceries and purchase medical supplies and other over-the-counter items for loved ones. In certain cases, the person receiving care’s medical benefits can be applied to cover the rides and orders, and a three-way chat will let the caregiver, rider and driver communicate together. (The feature builds upon a similar offering that lets healthcare providers book rides for patients.)

Uber will also let riders pre-book shared rides — the evolution of what used to be called Uber Pool, where riders can split a ride with strangers going in a similar direction — for a discount, a move it says was inspired by growth in people using the app during commuting hours. The feature will initially launch in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego and Atlanta, before expanding to other areas.

“Sharing is an essential part of the future of cities at our scale,” Camiel Irving, general manager of US and Canada mobility operations, said Wednesday.

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