Ride sharing app Uber Technologies Inc is launching its car-pooling service in India, as per a press statement.
A pilot version of the UberPOOL service will begin in Bangalore over the next few weeks.
With UberPOOL, commuters can share a ride and split the cost with another person who needs to travel along a similar route. Rides will be upto 50 per cent cheaper for the addition of a few minutes of travel time per trip, Uber claims.
“India is a top global priority for Uber along with China and UberPOOL… Our vision for UberPOOL means helping solve some of the toughest problems cities are facing today, whether it’s congestion, pollution, or lack of access to transportation,” said Bhavik Rathod, GM Bangalore, Uber. Progressively, Uber will launch the car-pooling service in other Indian cities.
Uber claims that its car-pooling option would be cheaper than using and maintaining a personal car.
UberPOOL is already operational in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Austin and Paris. In fact, nearly half of all Uber rides in San Francisco are ‘POOL rides,’ the company said.
Earlier this month, Meru Cab Company Pvt Ltd, one of India’s oldest radio taxi firms, ventured into the car-pooling space by launching a new service for customers travelling to the same area.
Though there are a number of ride-sharing apps in the market, Meru was the first taxi company to venture into this nascent but highly advocated business.
Online travel group Ibibo had launched a carpooling app named Ryde in April.
WestBridge Capital-backed Carzonrent India Pvt Ltd, which runs radio cab services besides offering self-drive car rental and fleet management services, recently acquired Bangalore-based 42 Solutions Pvt Ltd, which runs a ride sharing app RidingO.
Accel Partners and Index Ventures-backed online carpooling venture BlaBlaCar forayed into India in January while Rocket Internet-backed carpooling firm Tripda entered the country last year.
Uber, which presently has operations in 22 Indian cities, has been scaling up in the country despite regulatory challenges.
The San-Francisco-based company ‘will easily more than double’ its direct headcount in the country by December 31, 2015. Uber recently launched cash payments facility in India, a first for the company in any geography.
Uber counts Bangalore and Kolkata as two of its fastest growing cities globally. In July, Uber said it will invest $50 million in Hyderabad over the next five years to establish a facility that will house hundreds of its employees and be its biggest international office.
Last week, the Delhi government once again rejected Uber’s application for licence to run its taxis in the national capital. The government’s move comes around a fortnight after it rejected the application for license by another cab service provider – Ola Cabs. All app-based cab services were banned in the national capital after a Uber driver was accused of raping a 27-year-old woman passenger in Delhi last year.
Recently, the woman “voluntarily” dismissed the lawsuit she had filed in a US court against the web-based taxi company.
Uber is one the world’s heavily funded startups. Marquee names such as Fidelity Investments, Wellington Management, BlackRock Inc, Summit Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures, Menlo Ventures, New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Qatar Investment Authority among others have put money in the company. Tata Capital’s flagship private equity fund Tata Opportunities Fund (TOF) has invested an undisclosed amount in Uber. This is part of Uber’s $1.2 billion pre-IPO fundraising effort that is being led by China’s Hillhouse Capital Group.