After launching its public transport bus service in countries of Latin America and the Middle East, US-based Uber is now looking at India to pilot its bus service. It is working on launching a shuttle bus network in Indian cities by 2020. With this move, it will be challenging Amazon-backed bus service provider Shuttl.
Uber Technologies, Inc. is an American multinational transportation network company, offering services that include peer-to-peer ridesharing, ride service hailing, food delivery, and a bicycle-sharing system. The company is based in San Francisco and has operations in 785 metropolitan areas worldwide. Its platforms can be accessed via their websites and mobile apps.
As of 2019, Uber is estimated to have a 110 million worldwide user base. Uber has been so prominent in the sharing economy that the changes in industries as a result of it have been referred to as Uberisation and many startups have pitched their products as “Uber for X”.
In India, there are reportedly over 6 million weekly active Uber riders as of June 2019.
Uber has been on a silent drive in India as the company went public and has been addressing issues of driver-partners as well as riders. At the same time, the company has also been busy expanding with discussions on a subscription model for a bundle of its services. However, in India, the company is reportedly working to experiment with its bus services with an eye on the mass transportation system. The company is in the process of building the product and refining that. The product is already live in parts of Latin America and the Middle East, which may inform its plans for India, confirmed a source to ReviewTech on condition of anonymity.
The new public transport module of Uber would contain a convenient and interactive interface for its users. Unlike the existing public transport that has many fixed stops, the app scans for passengers travelling in the same direction to make fewer stops and reach faster, while reserving their seats through Uber app.
However, this venture won’t necessarily be a cakewalk for Uber, which in the past has had an easy run in the market to start with. Bus service by ride-hailing apps is not new in India. Domestic cab aggregator Ola had earlier experimented with a similar service in 2015 called Ola Shuttle but stopped operations in 2018.
Amazon-backed bus service provider Shuttl is already operating in major Indian cities, though with limited success. The startup claims to provide 60K rides per day and has 80% of its business coming from Delhi/ NCR and expanding its base aggressively in cities like Pune and Bangalore.
The idea started as a hired a taxi service and graduated to a pool service for multiple riders and now wants to transport masses as a public transport service, but this time the startup might face some government regulatory hurdles. Since many cities have banned private players from operating in the public transport sector. India’s transport tech is one of such sectors that have started gaining interest from investors. India has multiple transport tech startups, over 500 of them as of November 2018. Beyond the urban mobility solutions of cabs, the market has widened with solutions such as shuttle bus services, rental two-wheelers, electric bikes etc.