Uber is planning to expand into its second international market, this time in Bangalore, India. They aren’t following the standard model, though, and are instead introducing UberPool, a variation that provides Uber drives for carpools.
Bangalore has some of the heaviest traffic in the world. It’s India’s second largest city and the 18th most populous city in the world. The congestion is so bad that Bangalore’s Traffic Police has started a campaign to get people carpooling or taking public transit in an attempt to reduce traffic by about 40,000 cars.
Hence UberPool. The idea is to give people in the city a third option, one which could be quite affordable for individual passengers. According to an Uber spokesperson, passengers could save as much as 50% on their fare when they carpool. That will likely be tempting.
They won’t be without competition though. Ola, India’s leading ride-hail company, will be unveiling their Ola Share program, which operates along similar lines. They’re doing that soon, and in five cities, while Uber hasn’t announced a start date for their program, and they won’t be expanding outside of Bangalore until they get the hang of dealing with traffic in India.
Of course, traffic will be different in different cities, so chances are they’re waiting to see how things pan out in Bangalore before moving to other, possibly smaller, markets. Uber is a shrewd business, although that has led to some problems for the company. They have a bit of a mixed reputation here in the United States, and unless they plan on introducing a different driver model, they could run into problems in India. Pay rates are lower, and many Uber drivers already make too little for their time. In addition, India is known for being rather unsafe for women, so hiring just anyone off the street with no oversight could go poorly for them.