Uber Is Now Using Speedboats to Beat Mumbai’s Terrible Traffic Problem

Talk about thinking outside the box.

byStephen Edelstein|
Uber Is Now Using Speedboats to Beat Mumbai’s Terrible Traffic Problem

Uber is investing in alternative modes of transportation such as bicycles and scooters, but to deal with Mumbai's notoriously terrible traffic, the ride-hailing company is trying something a bit more unusual. Mumbai residents can now hail speedboats to bypass traffic, Uber announced in a blog post.

The boat service is actually a new extension of Uber Boat, which has been offered intermittently in the United States. Passengers can travel between three water-accessible locations within Mumbai: Gateway of India, the Elephanta Islands, and the Mandwa Jetty. 

Rides start at 5,700 rupees ($80) for a six or eight-seat boat and rise to 9,500 rupees ($132) for an Uber XL boat accommodating up to 10 people. Uber only accepts bookings for an entire boat, not individual seats. The service is launching as a pilot program, but will expand in the coming weeks, an Uber spokesperson told CNN.

India's cities have some of the worst traffic in the world. CNN cited an Uber-commissioned report by Boston Consulting, which stated that Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, and Kolkata lose more than $22 billions year because of traffic jams. It takes commuters about 1.5 hours longer to travel a given distance than in comparable Asian cities, according to the report. In addition to the volume of traffic, the chaotic nature of Indian roads makes driving even more challenging.

Commuting by boat is nothing new. In New York City, commuters relied on a network of ferries to get to the island of Manhattan before the advent of subways and cars. Today, overcrowding on streets and subways has led New York to bring back ferries. While increased traffic congestion is definitely a concern for Uber, it's unlikely that customers will ever hail boats as often as they do cars.