“We are excited to launch Uber Boat in Mumbai, in partnership with Maharashtra Maritime Board,” Prabhjeet Singh, Uber India and South Asia’s Head of Cities, said in a statement last week announcing the new partnership with Maharashtra Maritime Board that began on Sunday. “As pioneers in the organized on-demand transport system, Uber’s vision is to create a multi-modal platform to better serve riders and the cities we operate in.”
Starting at $80 USD for a 6- to 8-seater speedboat and $132 for a 10-person Uber Boat XL, riders (who must reserve full boats rather than individual seats) can commission travel between three destinations along the city’s waterway at the push of a button. Lifejackets included.
But the decision to expand from the streets to the straits in India might have more longevity—and appears to have been in the works throughout 2018.
Uber commissioned a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on Mumbai traffic patterns that was released last April, according to Quartz. Its research showed that commuters in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Kolkata spend up to 1.5 hours more on their daily commutes during peak traffic times than counterparts in other Asian cities. Uber and BCG found that the congestion costs the Indian cities as much as $22 billion a year.
Considering that Uber earned more than $1.6 billion in annual bookings throughout India in the third quarter of 2018, according to an internal email sent to CNBC, it makes sense that the company would innovate to broaden its service in the country—just as it had in 2017 by making the app more accessible to Indian users who don’t have high-powered smartphones.
“Additionally,” said Vikram Kumar, CEO, Maharashtra Maritime Board, in a statement, he will “will further strive and work with Uber to create new possibilities and augment business for local boat operators.”