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Uber's Indian Competitor, Ola, Is Already Doing Uber's Next Big Thing

Uber's "perpetual ride" is finally here — thanks to the company's rival, Ola.

Last updated on October 26, 2015, at 2:16 p.m. ET

Posted on October 26, 2015, at 2:02 p.m. ET


Prakash Singh / AFP / Getty Images

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has a vision of the perfect Uber trip. “It’s the perpetual trip, the trip that never ends,” Kalanick said last year. “The driver picks one passenger up, picks another passenger up, drops off the first passenger, but then picks up passenger number three, and drops off passenger number two."

That vision has now become reality, but no thanks to Uber.

India’s homegrown ride-hail behemoth Ola debuted a new service two weeks ago that does exactly what Kalanick had proposed for Uber. Called Ola Share, it matches passengers who share social groups (work colleagues, students) and common destinations (work, school, apartment building) on something of a never-ending ride. The first passenger is matched with a second and perhaps a third, and after one is dropped off the Ola driver can pick up another without ever ending the trip. Ola rolled the service out 15 days ago in Bangalore and plans to expand into five more cities over the next three months.

Ola Share is pretty much exactly the sort of service Kalanick wants to bring to Uber but with a slightly different spin: Ola describes it as "eternal capacity" instead of "perpetual ride."

"The idea with Share is the driver gets to earn more because the capacity is almost double and there's a continued ride or a perpetual ride," Ola spokesperson Anand Subramanian told BuzzFeed News. "It's also obviously far more economical for a customer. They typically pay a third of the price they'd pay had they chosen a cab for themselves."

The service is still in its infancy and Ola needs to further juice demand for it to really take off. But that may not be too difficult for the company considering it just served its 25 millionth unique customer, completed more than 150 million rides, and is on track to have 3 million ride bookings a day by April 2016.


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