Online cab booking service Uber has launched intercity services, starting with shuttle services between Mumbai and Pune. The service, named uberINTERCITY, will be offered for a limited time ‘until further notice’. Furthermore, customers will be required to have a balance of Rs 3,999 in their PayTM wallets to request a cab, which is the cost of the service.

Uber mentions the uberINTERCITY option is available to users in Pune and Mumbai in the coverage areas. However tapping on this option only showed us “No cars available” repeatedly, no matter where in Pune or Mumbai we set the pickup point to. We wonder if the service is overbooked, or if Uber has a paucity of cars for some reason.

Other than this, users will also be able to split the fare with others if they wish to do so. Users can split fares by tapping the ‘up arrow’ next to the driver’s info, selecting ‘split fare’ and then selecting their friends. The selected users get a text message prompting them to download the app and sign up. Here they can confirm they want to split the fare. The app then automatically splits the fare and deducts the shared amount from user accounts.

Competition: Various agent services allow customers to book cabs between Pune-Mumbai and have a website, although none of them seem to let users book or pay for the cab online. However, this is where Uber’s advantage ends as prices listed on these websites are far below Uber’s. Most local drivers will readily go from Pune to Mumbai and back within a day for Rs 4000. One way rides start at Rs 1900 in basic cabs, which is less than half of Uber’s pricing. Given that some better-than-low-end cars can charge more than Rs 5k for a one way trip, Uber’s pricing might be worth it, depending on the cars they provide.

There are also a few online cab booking services that let users book intercity cabs. For example, Meru cabs provides intercity cabs on a Rs/Km basis while Olacabs lets users hire cabs for intercity trips. Ibibo’s Ryde and BlaBlaCar also offers intercity services, but these are ridesharing services which let users interested in the trip communicate with the car owner and pay for the trip, fundamentally different from hiring cabs, although they compete in the same field.

Other developments:

– Uber upgraded its in-app SOS button and will now have closer coordination with local police control rooms in case of an emergency, the platform reported last week. The company mentioned that when users press the SOS button it places a call with local law enforcement and will generate an alert automatically and send it directly to the local police control room.

– Last month, Uber tied up with Zomato to let Zomato’s users to instantly see the estimated pickup time, fare and travel time to the restaurant they are looking up, from their current location by an Uber taxi. As part of the integration, when users search for a destination they will also get an option to book a ride with Uber which shows up in the public transportation pane.

– The same month, Uber launched an on-demand auto rickshaw service called uberAUTO on its platform in Delhi, which allows users to book auto rickshaw rides in the city. Hired autos would ply at government approved metered fares and would have to be paid for in cash at the end of the ride.

Also read: Govt softens stance on cab-hailing apps; will not ban Uber and Ola

Image source: Uber