Uber is extending its ride-hailing capabilities to include group travel through a partnership with US Coachways. The company will let people book large vehicles, such as party buses, passenger vans or coach buses directly in the app.
With plans to launch nationwide, the new charter bus service is first being rolled out in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth markets.
Uber Charter lets riders book their own bus through the widely used app, which features upfront pricing, while catering specifically to group events, such as weddings, wine tastings, family trips and church outings.
The ride-sharing platform plans to extend the group travel service nationwide this summer but, for now, it’s exclusive to the major Texas metro markets.
“Uber Charter alleviates the stress and guesswork that comes along with booking group travel,” said Kristy Brader, Specialty Product Operations Lead at Uber, in a release. “Whether it’s a bachelorette party, a family reunion or a company outing, Uber Charter will allow consumers to seamlessly book group travel directly in the Uber app.”
Available on the Uber app
The service offers customers a range of group-size vehicles, upfront pricing and seamless payment through its popular app.
The charter buses are provided through a partnership with US Coachways, which contracts with transportation companies to provide limo buses, Sprinter vans, executive buses and school-style buses.
As the official provider of charter buses for Uber Charter, US Coachways’ leadership is describing its deal with the ride-sharing platform as a “win” for the travel industry still recovering from pandemic losses. They say the arrangement will benefit charter operators and drivers with even more flexibility and increased earnings.
“We are thrilled to enter into this venture with Uber,” said Joseph Heap, the Chief Marketing Officer at US Coachways. “It’s an exciting time to be in the ground transportation industry, with innovation and change happening virtually every day. We believe that working in tandem with Uber uniquely positions us to combine existing expertise and new technology services to meet the demands of the post-COVID travel boom.”
Riders can book a bus for hours at a time or short trips around the city. Pricing varies due to seasonality and marketplace conditions, but riders get an upfront price.
There is a $25 booking fee for Uber Charter, and additional fees and charges may occur, depending on the vendor’s fuel, tolls, parking and overages policy. The quoted price includes all fees for the use of the bus, the cost of the driver, insurance, tolls and gas. Service fees will be charged separately and include the costs of dispatch and sales support services, according to its website.
Trips booked at least 30 days in advance require a 20% deposit, whereas trips booked within less than 30 days require the full fare payment.
Hosts can pay with vouchers
Affiliate vendors will receive Uber Charter requests through US Coachways’ familiar SubOut software. All pricing is created through the SubOut pricing algorithm for fair market value based on supply and demand. The work is based on an impartial bidding process, and operators will be able to dictate what fares they are willing to accept. There is no obligation for affiliate vendors to take Uber Charter bookings, and the decision will not impact their ability to access other bookings on the SubOut platform, the company said.
Uber customers, who can access the new service by opening their Uber app and tapping the Charter icon, will be notified when the feature rolls out in their city.
The company is also introducing Uber Vouchers for Events, which lets users create custom codes with a maximum pricing limit. Users can cover the cost of rides for their event guests with vouchers.
The person hosting will enter the event details and the maximum amount they want to pay, then share the generated code with their guests, who will determine their own pickup and dropoff times and locations.
“We’ve always worked hard to make the charter bus rental booking process as easy as possible,” said Heap. “This partnership with Uber will help us streamline the process even more for our riders, drivers and affiliate vendors.”