Ride-hailing service Uber is mulling an experiment with its bus service in India in order to promote mass transit, according to a report by Moneycontrol. Uber confirmed the development in response to MediaNama’s query, but declined to share further details on the matter.

In an interview with Moneycontrol, Pradeep Parameswaran, President of Uber India and South, said that the company was in the process of building the product and refining it. “I am hoping that in India we will be out in the next 12 months or so. Fundamentally, we can say that buses play an important part of public transport. Every version of a well performing transit solution will require buses,” Parameswaran told Moneycontrol.

According to the report, Uber is relying on the bus service to gain major transaction among the masses. “Uber has not found its product market fit in India yet which means that the number of people who can afford air-conditioned cars on an everyday basis, two times is somewhat a limited market. Now as the economy grows and the per capita income grows, that segment is growing quite fast. On an absolute basis, we are well into kind of tapping that market,” he said.

This is not the first time Uber has considered deploying buses under its fleet. Last year, Uber had launched its bus service in Cairo, Egypt. It allowed the passengers to book their seats in AC bus through the Uber application. It also has live pilot projects in Latin America, the Moneycontrol report said.

Why will Uber launch bus service in India?

  • Uber created several campaigns (here’s one from 2017, another from 2018) around the use of public transport in India.
  • Uber had also said last year that it would pilot ExpressPool in India, but the current status of this service is unknown.
  • Uber can bank on the scale of operations in India. For instance, a bus service would be useful for office employees who don’t have their own transport, or an office pick-up and drop-off service.

App-based bus services in India

Prior to Uber, Ola had launched its shuttle service “Ola Shuttle” in September 2015 with a fleet of 500 shuttles. The service was expanded to Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Jaipur, Chennai and Guwahati. However, the cab aggregator exited the space last year to focus on Autos, Share, and emerging tech such as electric vehicles.

Currently, Gurgaon-based Shuttl provides app-based office shuttle service. It runs on a subscription-based model and charges its customers between ₹1,800-2000 for a monthly pass. With this move, Uber will compete with other notable players such as ZipGo, Cityflo, Easy Commute, and Ridlr.