- Uber has launched an on-demand speedboat service in Mumbai to ferry passengers through popular coastal destinations and avoid the congested streets of India’s most populous city.
- The on-demand service, dubbed Uber Boat, can be hailed through the app and will cover three of the city’s most popular coastal destinations: Gateway of India, Elephanta Islands and Mandwa Jetty.
- Rides will start at 5,700 rupees ($80 USD) for a ride on a 6-8 seat boat, and 9,500 rupees ($132) for larger boats of at least 10 seats through Uber Boat XL. The bookings can only cover the entire boat, not individual seats.
The speedboat service — which launched this month on a pilot basis, but may be expanded soon — follows the tourist-focused boat-hailing initiative Uber launched in Croatia and Egypt in 2017. In Mumbai, it’s been touted as a way to beat the city’s notoriously traffic-choked streets. A Boston Consulting Group report last year commissioned by Uber found that it takes commuters about 1.5 hours longer to travel a given distance at peak times in Indian cities compared to other Asian cities.
The city is also using Uber Boat as a way to beef up its waterfront. Sanjay Bhatia, chairman of the Bombay Port Trust, said in a statement that the city was looking to make Mumbai “the sea transport and tourism hub of the country."
"As we continue to reimagine the waterways of Mumbai through a host of ambitious projects and partnerships, we believe Uber Boat will play a pivotal role in improving connectivity," Bhatia said.
Whether Uber Boats could expand to the U.S. remains to be seen, although it could find a home in coastal cities like Miami or New York City, where it could supplement existing ferry services. In Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the company trialed a similar initiative for a few days in 2016, with all rides available for free. Uber has been exploring some non-traditional modes of transportation, especially as it tries to make headway in international cities dealing with crippling congestion.
In 2016, it started testing UberCopter in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and has since offered helicopter rides for special events around the world. The company has also said it will put flying taxis in cities like Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth through its uberAIR service within the next decade. It’s part of Uber’s quest to cover all mobility modes that users could need, whether on or off roads.