Uber forays into speedboat services, pilots UberBOAT in Mumbai

Innovation, creativity, first mover’s advantage are keywords that drive the dynamics and hence, the growth of an enterprise, and Uber realises this fairly well.

The US-based giant’s hunt for new ideas are ambitious and go beyond the scope of just road transport.

The last we heard about mind-boggling tech innovation, Uber’s plans were to make aerial taxis a reality in India, making a dig at airways.

This time, in a more realisable plan, Uber is launching UberBOAT in Mumbai and also expanding into waterways.

The official launch of the services will commence from Feb 1. It is expected that these UberBOATs are going to be speedboats with a seating capacity of 6-10 people. A rider can book the entire speedboat or a single seat as late as just 15 minutes before boarding, via the application itself.

The first route where this facility will be launched is Gateway of India to Mandwa Jetty with a distance of approximately 19 kms or 10 nautical miles.

The USP of the UberBOAT is highlighted here as normally this route would take 1 hour by ferry or 3.5 hours (116 kms) by road. Uber, on the other hand, promises to cover the distance in 20-22 minutes.

The pricing is expected to be fixed in the beginning and later switch to Uber’s dynamic structure when sufficient data is available to fit a model.

Depending on the success of this service, Uber has plans to explore other routes like Navi Mumbai (Nerul or Belapur) to South Bombay, as several people travel from the suburbs to old Mumbai for work. Instead of spending more than an hour in locals or cars, they would then be able to reach their workplaces in about half an hour.

Other plausible routes are Elephanta caves and Alibaugh.

The Mumbai Port Trust is also an active promoter of this development at it helps their aim to create world-class water transport or sea tourism infrastructures.

Going forward it would be interesting to see how successful this initiative by Uber is in helping Mumbai’s traffic problems, and how much it helps Uber’s own business in India.

Early last year, home-grown ride-hailing firm and Uber rival Ola had piloted Ola Boat in Guwahati.

This development was first reported by ET.

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