Uber explores metro, bus bookings in partnership with India's ONDC - source

FILE PHOTO: Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi speaks to the media at an event in New Delhi
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By Indranil Sarkar and Akash Sriram

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Uber is exploring offerings such as intercity bus and metro rail ticket bookings in India as part of a partnership with a government backed e-commerce initiative, a source told Reuters on Thursday.

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was in India's Bengaluru earlier in the day when Uber signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Open Network For Digital Commerce (ONDC).

The partnership could allow Uber to win more users, compete better with local rivals and help boost public transport use in the world's most populous country.

ONDC, launched in 2022 by the government, operates a non-profit network that enables the display of services from all participating platforms. Partner apps include Paytm, Dunzo and Delhivery.

Uber and its CEO, however, offered sparse details on what the partnership with ONDC would entail.

Last year, ONDC forayed into the mobility segment by partnering with Namma Yatri, a Bengaluru-based auto-rickshaw hailing mobile app, to offer more options to users of ride-hailing gaints Ola and Uber who had been facing frequent cancellations and surge pricing.

As a technology company, Uber views open source tech stacks such as ONDC with a lot of interest and recognizes the opportunities they bring for everyone, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Thursday.

Chennai metro also is a part of the ONDC network, which is in discussions to onboard more metro operators across cities.

Bus ticketing platform redBus, earlier this month, became the first independent mobility company to join ONDC.

Uber's direct ride-sharing rival, Ola, also joined the platform last year, but to test its food delivery services for select users.

(Reporting by Indranil Sarkar and Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)