Slow start for Uber’s Europe to Asia on-demand boat service

Uber has launched UberBOAT in Turkey, an on-demand boat taxi service in Istanbul, to ferry customers across the Bosphorus Strait, which separates the city across two continents – Europe and Asia.

The strait is notorious for traffic jams in rush hour, and the journey can be known to take almost an hour in a car. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have access to a boat, you can bypass the congestion.

UberBOAT, which has teamed with Turkish boat company Navette, lets people order the boats the same way that they do Uber cars. Through an app, users locate the nearest boat, and when the captain calls to confirm availability, the boat arrives and the journey starts. Fares start at 50 Turkish liras (about £13) but can be split between passengers. Each boat can hold up 10 people at a time.

The service was launched in June, but is struggling to gain momentum in the same way that regular Uber services have. “We have more clients at weekends. I would say that we carry around 50-60 people per week,” said the captain of one of the boats when speaking to Euronews.

But why is this? Well, there’s lots of competition between various transport services ferrying across the Bosphorus Strait, which is dotted with seaside villas, restaurants and historic sites. Public ferries between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul can cost as little as 2.15 lira (about 50p) per ride, and water cabs operate almost 24/7.

This latest deviation into another transport method may well be a step too far, but it’s still early days to see for sure. Would you use the UberBOAT to get from one side of Istanbul to the other? Let us know at @Liftshare!

Photo credit: Wikimedia


Author Lex Barber


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