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Uber for speedboats: Ridesharing takes to the waves in India

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Global ridesharing giant Uber has taken to the seas in India, launching the pilot of its speedboat-on-demand service in Mumbai.

As of last week, Uber Boat is offering voyages between three tourist hotspots, in partnership with the Maharashtra Maritime Board.

Tourists can hail a water taxi from the Gateway of India, or Colaba Apollo Bandar, to the Elephanta Islands or Mandwa Jetty, both about 20km away.

Uber Boats can carry six to eight passengers at a time, or bigger groups of sightseers can splash out on an Uber Boat XL, for up to 10 people.

But seafaring doesn’t come cheap. Rides will start at INR 5,700 ($110) for Uber Boat, and INR 9,500 ($183.50) for Uber Boat XL.

In a statement, Prabhjeet Singh, head of cities for Uber in India and South Asia, called Uber “pioneers of the on-demand transport system”.

The service is intended to provide “efficient and easily accessible services to riders who are looking at navigating through these specific routes”, Singh said.

At the same time, “boat operators will be able to gain access to Uber’s highly engaged rider base and enhance their earning opportunity”, he said.

“With this service, boat operators will be able to gain access to Uber’s highly engaged rider base and enhance their earning opportunity.”

Uber has stressed all boats will be equipped with lifejackets, as well as emergency contact details and safety manuals and instructions.

The ride-sharing platform launched its first speedboat service on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia back in July 2017, offering tourists private rides between five nearby islands, and to and from the mainland.

It’s not clear whether the Uber is planning to expand its speedboat services anytime soon, or whether it will come to Australian shores.

However, throughout Melbourne Cup Carnival last year, a daily UberBOAT service was available to whisk revellers upriver to the races.

At the same time, the lavish UberCHOPPER helicopter was available to fly punters back to the CBD in 10 minutes, for a mere $1,000 a ride.

So, if you’re hoping to order an on-demand aqua taxi to whiz you across Sydney Harbour, or to St Kilda on a sunny day, you never know, you may not be waiting too long.

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].

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