Lo­cal taxi op­er­a­tors speak out

CityPress - - Business -

Lo­cal taxi com­pa­nies are feel­ing the heat from Uber. Melusi Ncube, the CEO of Joburg-based Orange Cabs, said Uber’s en­try into the lo­cal taxi mar­ket had had an ef­fect.

Uber launched in Joburg in Septem­ber 2013 and be­gan op­er­a­tions in Cape Town the fol­low­ing month, later en­ter­ing Dur­ban and Port El­iz­a­beth.

He said the big­gest losers from Uber’s low fares would be the driv­ers.

“Uber’s low fares are go­ing to re­sult in the driv­ers spend­ing less on main­tain­ing their ve­hi­cles,” he added.

Uber’s Lits said that the com­pany’s prices were lower be­cause driv­ers us­ing Uber were more ef­fi­cient.

“Prices are low for con­sumers, while the money earned by driv­ers is main­tained by max­imis­ing the amount of time they have a rider in the back seat,” he said.

Peter Lehman, the gen­eral man­ager of Dur­ban-based Mozzie Cabs, said UberX’s base fare of R6/km, plus the 25% com­mis­sion that Uber takes from its driver part­ners, made it un­af­ford­able for driv­ers reg­is­tered on Uber’s plat­form.

The com­pany’s costs were lower than con­ven­tional taxi com­pa­nies as Uber did not em­ploy the driv­ers listed on its plat­form, and these driv­ers did not face the same com­pli­ance costs that con­ven­tional taxi com­pa­nies bore.

Uber has never been trans­par­ent about whether it en­forces com­pli­ance among its driver part­ners with South African trans­port and tax­a­tion laws.

“Tell me how Joe Pub­lic is pro­tected when they drive with an Uber driver?” said Lehman.

Uber also had an ex­pen­sive app, which con­ven­tional taxi com­pa­nies could not af­ford.

“On ev­ery front, Uber is chal­leng­ing and bul­ly­ing le­gal taxi op­er­a­tors,” he said.

A man­ager at a Cape Town taxi ser­vice said that Uber was def­i­nitely gain­ing mar­ket share and his com­pany was los­ing clients.

On the other hand, Ana Bo­nanni, the MD of ve­hi­cle fi­nance com­pany SA Taxi, said that Ze­bra Cabs, which SA Taxi owns, had as yet not seen an im­pact on its busi­ness from Uber.

Bo­nanni ques­tioned whether Uber’s cheaper deal would re­sult in a drop in qual­ity amid ris­ing costs for driv­ers, in­clud­ing a higher fuel price.

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