With 'Ola Share' and 'uberPOOL' has ride-sharing come of age in India


On Tuesday, taxi aggregators Ola and Uber went live with their ride sharing verticals - Ola Share and uberPOOL. With both these verticals, users can now share cab rides with others heading to the same destination or in the same direction.

Ola Share works in a more social ride-sharing method. With this service, customers can now choose to share their rides with users from their own social groups. To make this easier, riders can create groups in the Ola app with colleagues, friends, office goers, college goers, and even flat mates. Once the share ride request is placed on the app, you're matched with other riders taking the same route in your groups.

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For uberPool, one places a request for a uberPool ride with your destination and you're matched with another rider heading in the same direction. The fare is then split between the two rides. Bhavik Rathod, General Manager, Uber Bengaluru, says that their pool service rides are 30 per cent lesser than the Uber GO ride.

Also read: How taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber are bringing micro-entrepreneurship to students

Adding a social angle to ride sharing

"The concept of social ride sharing gives you the opportunity to share a ride with people you're comfortable with," says Anand Subramanian, Director of Marketing, Ola. He adds that as a customer you pay lesser, and the cabs too are fully utilised.

Using Ola’s ride-sharing system, customers can choose to book an ‘Ola Share’ cab which will now start appearing on the Ola app as a separate category. On mentioning the drop location, Ola will use advanced algorithms to match users from common groups who are also looking for a cab on the same route in real time.

Once additional user’s route is identified, the driver’s device gets an alert with navigation to their pickup location within minutes, to join the ride. A cab can take up to three people.

Ishan Gupta, Head of Ola Share, says that this service is a step towards building mobility for a billion Indians. Ola Share, he adds, will not only bring economy, convenience and comfort of travelling, but also increases the utilisation of vehicles on the platform. It will help cater to more people at lesser cost.

Bringing in the experience of different markets

 "By looking at the rides that happen, there are pockets which have several rides going in the same direction. There are pockets of residential areas where trips originate in the day and at the end of the day the trips originate from work pockets," says Bhavik. He adds the passengers are matched basis routes using technology. Riders have the benefit of a lesser cost and it also means lesser cars on the road.

This technology and the algorithm that the Uber team brings in for uberPOOL has been successfully used in San Francisco for a year now. Bhavik adds that they've got in their learnings from different markets and have created a better service for the Indian markets. The algorithm has been fine tuned and looking at the response they've received, the team believes it will be successful in India.

Deciphering the ride sharing safety mechanism

Anand says that Ola Share has been created keeping the Indian mindset and customer context in mind. With the social grouping feature, the innate fear of safety and security is removed.

Bhavik adds for Uber, that there are several innovative safety features incorporated in the app. These include the call masking feature, the help button which connects you directly to the police control room and an internal response team as well to ensure passenger safety.

Also read: How carpooling became a hot new social trend in India

Carpooling as a concept comes under the large umbrella of shared economy, which a recent Price Waterhouse Coopers report on the global market estimated at USD 15 billion. This figure is projected to hit USD 335 billion by 2025.

Experts say that India will get a good share of this market projection.The last few years have seen startups the likes of MeBuddie, RidingO, PoolCircle, CarPool Adda coming up in this space, but the entry of global players like Brazilian Tripda and French BlaBla Car was the real game changer. It has brought in a sort of validation that the Indian market is ready for carpooling.

BlaBla Car raised USD 100 million in funding from Accel Partners and Index Ventures to explore emerging markets, including India, Brazil and Turkey. The online service that connects private car owners with commuters for long-distance travel launched in India in January this year.