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Uber's new CEO admits ride-sharing with strangers is a 'little weird'

The company has also ventured into bike-sharing, acquiring New York-based Jump
Picture of an Uber logo on a cell phone
Uber is also changing how it vets drivers

Uber Technologies Inc. is ploughing hundreds of millions of dollars into shared rides via UberPool and Express Pool, but it has work to do to reverse the mentality of its customers who think having another person in the car is “a little weird,” said  Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, this week.

“What we’re finding is that there are these societal norms that we have to battle,” Khosrowshahi said Wednesday while speaking on a panel in Washington, D.C. “You go on the bus, it doesn’t feel weird. You share a car with someone else, and it kind of feels a little weird.”

Khosrowshahi’s public comments about Uber's future plans come in the same week as a flurry of news about the ride-sharing company reveals his aspirations as chief executive, a job he took in August of 2017.

Indeed, Khosrowshahi looked particularly ambitious this week, by making a pair of announcements – which will push the company into bike-sharing as well.

In its first move, Uber acquired Jump, the New York-based dockless e-bike-sharing company. Uber users in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco are already able to arrange a ride on a Jump bike via their Uber phone apps, according to published reports.

Read: Uber snaps up bike-sharing firm Jump for reported US$100mln

Uber’s second foray, which also was revealed this week, is a partnership in San Francisco with a so-called peer-to-peer car company Getaround, which sets up rentals of private owners’ cars. Within weeks, riders of Uber will be able to rent the vehicles, which are listed on Getaround’s platform, by the day or by the hour, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The way the system will work is that Uber customers will be able to locate and book these cars, which range from Fords to Porsches, via Uber apps on their phone.

Signaling its intent to improve its image, Uber will also allow US riders to connect directly to 911, the U.S. emergency number, while taking rides. In addition to this safety feature, its customers will be able to choose as many as five friends with whom to share details of their trips during each ride.

The company is also making strides in improving how it vets its drivers. This week, the company said it would run criminal as well as motor vehicle checks on its drivers every year and invest in new technology which spots drivers' most recent offenses such as driving under the influence.

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