Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc. started a pilot speedboat service in Mumbai on Wednesday as part of its plans to provide multi-modal transport services in India.
The UberBOAT service, launched in partnership with the Maharashtra Maritime Board, adds to the company’s offerings that include cars, bikes and auto rickshaws. India is only the second country, after Croatia, to get the UberBOAT service.
The on-demand service will provide transportation from Gateway of India to Elephanta Islands and Mandwa Jetty and back. The pilot project will commence from February 1, company executives said at a press conference in Mumbai.
“With this service, boat operators will be able to gain access to Uber’s highly engaged rider base and enhance their earning opportunity,” said Prabhjeet Singh, head of cities, Uber India and South Asia.
Riders can call two variants of speedboats based on seating capacity: a six- or eight-seater UberBOAT and a 10-seater UberBOAT XL. The boats will be equipped with lifejackets and other safety features.
“We have been working closely with the Mumbai Maritime Board, making sure all the documentation is in place. As far as investment is concerned, it is happening on multiple dimensions such as on product interface and support services,” Singh told TechCircle on the sidelines of the event.
Singh said the company is focussed on providing multi-modal transport services in India. Uber provides cab-hailing services in 31 cities in India. It also runs UberMOTO, its bike taxi service, in some cities. It had re-launched its auto rickshaw services in March last year. In August last year, Uber had also shortlisted India among five countries to launch its flying taxi service under the Uber Elevate project.
In October last year, the US-based company said it planned to expand to more cities in India and grow its bike-hailing services. The company was expected to launch the pilot for electric vehicles in Hyderabad and Delhi by March but its plans appear to have been delayed.
“India is the only market for Uber where it provides services in two-, three- and four-wheelers,” said Singh.
Uber’s main rival in India is homegrown company Ola, which provides cab-hailing services in 110 cities. Ola also offers bike services in some cities and had even launched a pilot boat service in Guwahati last year, though the status of the pilot is unclear.
Singh also said Uber recently tied up with JUMP, an electric bike service, in a few cities in Europe and the US. “We have also partnered with ticket service provider Masabi to integrate the public transport system into the Uber app globally,” he added.