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Uber's Carpool Version, UberPool, Lands in India Before Palo Alto

Will traffic gridlock in Bangalore make UberPool a disaster?

iStock / shylendrahoode

Uber’s taking UberPool global, testing it soon in Bangalore, India.

This is one of the first times the company has offered its carpooling version in another country (it’s also in France). Funnily enough, India will have access to UberPool before many suburban Uber markets in the United States like Palo Alto and San Jose.

It’s possible the company plans to focus UberPool in dense cities, where it’s more likely to find matches between passengers heading the same way, instead of sprawling suburbs. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said recently at the Salesforce conference that UberPool isn’t as profitable as its original UberX service.

UberPool in India might face some major challenges. GPS and mapping tools are a different beast in the South Asian country, where the city landscape changes daily, roads start and stop in unexpected places and businesses launch and disappear unexpectedly. With a population of 4.3 million — by comparison, San Francisco is at 1 million — Bangalore is known for major traffic issues.

UberPool requires picking up people from different destinations quickly and efficiently so carpooling doesn’t add too much more time to a person’s commute. It’s a tough enough problem in the U.S.; navigating the maze of streets and traffic in India might be even harder.

Uber will also be taking on its competitors — sources tell Re/code that Ola Cabs is launching its carpool version, Ola Share, in five cities soon. Long distance travel app BlaBlaCar, which offers a more traditional form of carpooling, is already live in India.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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