New smartphone app makes using taxis a breeze [Pretoria News (South Africa)]
(Pretoria News (South Africa) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) IT'S CONTROVERSIAL abroad but now it's a download away at a city near you. It's Uber, a smartphone app that uses location-based technology to identify where you are and find a taxi nearby.
Once a match has been made, the taxi's details - including a photo of the driver - are sent to the user who can track the taxi through GPS as it makes its way to them.
In the taxi, the user's phone becomes the trip meter as it follows the route taken to the destination.
At the end of the trip payment is made automatically by the |app using preloaded credit card information.
In cities across Europe - including London, Madrid and Berlin - taxi operators have gone on strike against Uber because they believe it is unfair competition for them.
Alon Lits, Uber general manager, says the service is fairly new in South Africa but is fast taking off.
The service does not do pre-bookings as normal taxis do, or follow designated routes.
Central operations are run by the company, but each driver runs and manages his own vehicle.
"The drivers and their cars are carefully screened. Security and criminal record tests are done continually. When requesting a ride, the information, photo and details of the driver are sent to the passengers who can, in turn, share them with a family member or friend if they are nervous," Lits said.
The system is also cash-less.
Once the booking is made, the fare will automatically be deducted from the credit card used to register.
Many drivers who were previously self-employed or worked for other taxi services, have joined.
"They have freedom to work their own hours. Once they log in to say they are available, they will be dispatched to the closest passenger.
"We have empowered many drivers who are now making a good living," he said.
Maboys Dube, a driver linked to Uber in Joburg, believes it is great.
His brother's BMW serves as his taxi. He keeps it immaculate and he keeps handy a newspaper, |bottled water and mints for his |passengers.
Dube, who used to drive for another company, says he is kept very busy on weekend nights as his services are required by people who do not want to drink and drive.
Lits said Uber was now available in Cape Town, Durban and the Joburg/Centurion/Pretoria area.
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