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Uber confirms plans to foray into Indian public transportation

auto | Mar 8, 2019 9:31 PM IST

Uber confirms plans to foray into Indian public transportation


Imagine using your Uber app to buy a metro or a bus ticket.

Imagine using your Uber app to buy a metro or a bus ticket. If the cab-aggregator has its way, this could soon become a reality in India.

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A month ago, commuters in Denver, Coloardo, woke up to a ‘transit’ option on their Uber app. This feature allowed these users to opt for a bus ride as part of an Uber trip. This meant the commuter could map their journey (albeit on a bus, this time around), receive real-time ETA updates and also opt for an in-app ticketing feature, to pay for their ride.
The Denver experiment, as Uber calls it today, could soon become a reality for commuters around the world. Although Uber is tight-lipped over which cities will be next, the head of its transit division told CNBC-TV18 in an exclusive interview, that the company was in talks with ticketing partners.
“For our Denver project, we partnered with e-ticketing company Masabi, which has presence in over 35 cities, globally,” said David Reich, head of Uber Transit, “We can enter more markets where Masabi has ticketing presence. But we’re also building a platform so that we can work with different cities that use different technologies to fulfil their ticketing.”
The goal, obviously, is to get customers to plan journeys, buy tickets and make the trip using the app — but with the bus or train, as the chosen mode of transit. “So, you have that seamless experience in the Uber app where you now know how to get to where you’re going using public transportation, you purchase that ticket, get on the bus and train, and go,” said Reich.
While Uber is keen to launch ‘Transit’ in India, it isn’t committing to a date just yet. The company has also evinced interest in launching its Jump Scooters in India if infrastructure allows for it. But for the launch of Transit, the company wants to leverage an already-existing partnership with public transport authorities.
For instance, Uber has tied up with the Delhi Metro to offer last-mile connectivity to commuters. “We have a couple of partnerships in India, when it comes to public transportation, and are confident of our ability to build a complementary transit service,” said Reich. “A lot of people need to get to and from transit nodes, and late-night service for one, isn’t always dependable.”
“One of the interesting challenges would be to work with formal transportation networks and informal transportation networks,” he added.
By own its admission, the real challenge for Uber would be to have multiple modes of transit — like scooters, autos, cabs, buses and the metro — for the same trip, on the app. The company says it hopes to have this up and running by the time it launches Uber Transit, in India.
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