Uber montage including screengrabs of the Uber Johannesburg wesbite. 070715 Montage: Karen Sandison. Pictures: Dumisani Sibeko and Matthews Baloyi
Uber montage including screengrabs of the Uber Johannesburg wesbite. 070715 Montage: Karen Sandison. Pictures: Dumisani Sibeko and Matthews Baloyi
252-Maboys Dube(left) with a passanger Alon Lits(right) in the new taxi fo Uber taxi services. Johannesburg

01.09.2014

Picture:Dumisani Dube
252-Maboys Dube(left) with a passanger Alon Lits(right) in the new taxi fo Uber taxi services. Johannesburg 01.09.2014 Picture:Dumisani Dube
Maboys Dube(left) with a passanger Alon Lits(right) in the new taxi fo Uber taxi services. Johannesburg

01.09.2014

Picture:Dumisani Dube
Maboys Dube(left) with a passanger Alon Lits(right) in the new taxi fo Uber taxi services. Johannesburg 01.09.2014 Picture:Dumisani Dube

Johannesburg - We took a ride in an Uber cab as well as a metered taxi to compare the two experiences as well as to chat to the drivers about the dispute between the regular metered service and the high-end operation.

Uber Black*

Journey: 47 Sauer Street, Johannesburg central business district to Hyde Park Shopping Centre

Car: Audi A4

Arrival of Uber: Seven minutes after logging a request on the application

Travel time: 20 minutes

Fare: R264

EXPERIENCE:

It’s not hard to see why Uber has been so well received since its launch two years ago.

I didn’t think booking a cab would be so hassle free. Within a minute of logging on, my trip had been booked, paid for, and I had even been sent details of the driver who would be picking me up. Not only was I given the driver’s name, but I was sent a picture of the driver, details of the model of car I would be picked up in, and the car’s registration number.

The Uber application also allows you to track the driver to see how far he is from you. After seven minutes, I received a message to say the car was downstairs waiting for me.

As I got into the car, I was offered a bottle of water, a range of sweets and a newspaper. I was also asked which radio station I would like to listen to and whether I would like the air conditioning on.

Clearly the transport service prides itself on providing a world-class customer service. The driver also made a point of being friendly and we chatted throughout the drive.

THE DRIVER SPEAKS:

While it’s been reported that several Uber drivers have been intimidated by metered taxi drivers in the past week in Gauteng, my driver says this has yet to happen to him.

“A few of my colleagues have been intimidated. One of my colleagues had his phone stolen while he was waiting for a passenger at the Gautrain station in Sandton. It’s not good what they are doing.”

He says Uber has sent its drivers e-mails to warn them of possible violence by metered taxi drivers.

“We have been told to contact the police should anything happen while we are on the job. We have a special number to call.

“We are not stealing business from anyone. We do not wait at stops trying to get customers to use our service. The customers call us because they want to use our service.”

He thinks there will always be a demand for Uber because of its great service.

“Many of my customers are businessmen and celebrities. They appreciate the good service.

“Even if the taxi drivers chase us away we will move to another spot and let the customer know where we are.”

Zebra Cab – Metered taxi service

Journey: Hyde Park Shopping Centre to 47 Sauer Street, Johannesburg CBD

Car: Mazda

Arrival of Zebra Cab: 15 minutes after booking through the call centre

Travel time: 20 minutes

Fare: R250

EXPERIENCE:

While Zebra Cabs do not have an application to book a cab, it was a fairly easy process arranging a ride back to the office.

After calling the Zebra Cab control office, I booked my trip with an operator, who sent me an SMS confirming my booking.

I was sent the name of the driver who would be picking me up as well as a link on which I could track the driver.

It took my Zebra Cab 15 minutes to arrive at Hyde Park.

Although I was not offered water, sweets, or a newspaper, my taxi driver was friendly.

I was comfortable in the car and it seemed well maintained. Zebra Cabs use a tablet to track the distance the car has travelled and to work out the fare.

THE DRIVER SPEAKS:

Although he says he has made a lot less money since the arrival of Uber, he tells me he is not opposed to the high-end transport service.

“When Uber came in they took over all the clients. There’s nothing wrong with Uber if they are regulated and have the same prices as us.

“Remember, we are regulated and Uber is not part of that. They make their own prices. We charge R10.50 a kilometre, whereas Uber is charging R6.”

My driver says he welcomes competition from Uber.

“I have got no problem with Uber as a competitor, but they need to be regulated as well.

“If people are choosing Uber because they are a better source of transport and because they have a better application, I’ve got no problem with that.

“Our company has to make sure that we up our game and improve. But if someone is charging less and has better cars, it makes it difficult for us.”

The driver is worried about the tensions erupting if differences are not sorted out soon.

“The situation is becoming dangerous and something needs to be done. Very soon you will hear a client has died or a driver has died or something like that. Some Uber guys are also carrying guns now, so it has become a war.”

Zebra Cabs does not promote violence, the driver says.

“Two days ago the metered taxi drivers held an illegal protest. Our company told us we were not allowed to be part of it. However, we understand the problems metered taxi drivers have and we are in solidarity with them.”

My driver tells me t his company is looking to improve its service by launching an application and improving its cars.

Saturday Star

* Uber Black is Uber’s premier service.