Domestic taxi hailing service Ola and its San Fransisco-headquartered rival Uber have introduced carpooling services in India, a segment which is yet to see any significant success in the country despite reducing cost of travel.
Both companies announced the launch of the services, uberPOOL and OlaShare, in Bengaluru. Uber claims an uberPOOL ride will cost consumers about 35% less than a uberGO ride, the company’s cheapest offering in India.
Ola, run by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, is offering a ride at Rs50, which the company says is an introductory price.
Uber, on the other hand, will charge consumers a flat fee depending on the distance and time of travel (surge pricing, where companies hike prices depending on demand, will be applicable for cab sharing as well).
The consumers, however, will not be needed to pay more in case they end up travelling alone for dearth of any co-passenger along the route.
The company has already launched the ridesharing services in other locations, including San Fransisco, Boston and China.
“What we have noticed in most cities is that a vast majority of trips begin and end at the same places. We have a few pockets of residential areas and a few pockets of office areas,” said Bhavik Rathod, general manager at Uber, Bengaluru.
However, a consumer availing uberPOOL cannot choose a co-passenger, which may raise questions relating to security of passengers. Uber claims to have ample security measures in place.
Ola, in contrast, has added a so-called social layer to ride sharing, where a consumer can choose a co-passenger from a defined social circle.
Ola has introduced a feature called social groups to address this. With groups, colleagues or friends can share a ride among themselves. A user can join multiple groups, Ola said in a statement.
This feature may reduce a consumer’s anxiety around co-passengers and security.
“With Share, we not only bring economy, convenience and comfort of travelling with people in your circles, but also increased inventory utilization of vehicles on the platform. This will also contribute towards significant reduction of traffic, congestion and pollution in our cities,” said Ishan Gupta, head – Ola Share.
Meru Cabs also forayed into carpooling in September.
Uber, the world’s most valuable start-up, recently announced that the company will invest $1 billion in India.