You Can Now Hail an Uber Boat in Mumbai
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Uber is once again stepping outside what it's traditionally known for, ride-hailing car service, and introducing a new option for users in one of India's most crowded cities.
Uber has rolled out on-demand boat rides in Mumbai as an alternative for riders who don't want to deal with the city's notoriously bad traffic. Customers can charter boats between three coastal destinations: Gateway of India, Elephanta Islands and Mandwa Jetty.
An Uber-commissioned study by the Boston Consulting Group says that the average Mumbai resident spends 1.5 hours more in traffic during peak commute times compared to similar-sized Asian cities, costing the city billions of dollars in lost productivity each year.
However, rides aren't cheap: Trips start from 5,700 Rupees ($80) one-way for a smaller boat that holds six to eight people, and rides on a 10-person boat start at 9,500 rupees ($132). The price gets you the entire boat, although Uber won't let you share rides with others like in its UberPool feature. Your best bet is to be traveling with a bunch of friends, so you can split the costs among yourselves.
It's worth noting that this service is mostly targeted for tourists and wealthy Indians — Mumbai's characterized by widespread poverty and a massive disparity of wealth. According to 2014 Brookings Institution report, Mumbai's GDP per capita is just $7,000 USD a year. Helicopter service Blade also plans on expanding its footprint to Mumbai and will cater to the ultra-rich.
"With Uber Boat, we will tap the vast potential of the city's waterways transport system," said Prabhjeet Singh, Head of Cities, Uber India & South Asia in a statement. "With this service, boat operators will be able to gain access to Uber’s highly engaged rider base and enhance their earning opportunity."
Like with its car rides, Uber won't operate the vehicles itself, but just connect riders with licensed boat operators in Mumbai. The program is just a pilot right now, but CNN reports that it will be expanded in the coming weeks.
The ride-hailing company has launched similar services in the past, including boat rides in Turkey and Croatia. Similar to Blade, it's even offered on-demand helicopter rides during popular events like the Sundance Film Festival. Uber is working on its own "flying car" that it hopes to launch sometime during the next decade. In an effort to diversify its business, the company has heavily invested in scooter and bike share services over the last few years.
If you do find yourself in India and want to test the service, remember to use a card that earns bonus points on Uber purchases, like one of these:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – 3x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel for a 6% return
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – 3x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel up to $150,000 in combined category purchases each account anniversary year for a 6% return
- Citi Premier® Card – 3x ThankYou points on all travel for a 5.1% return
- US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card – 3x points for a 4.5% return
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – 2x Ultimate Rewards points on travel for a 4% return
The information for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
H/T: CNN Business