More choice for com­muters with new trans­port ser­vice

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ANNA COX @an­na­cox

THE BAT­TLE for taxi e-pas­sen­gers in Joburg has started.

With more and more peo­ple re­ly­ing on taxis – es­pe­cially over week­ends and pub­lic hol­i­days to avoid driv­ing drunk, and traf­fic and park­ing prob­lems – a new com­pany that con­nects driv­ers to pas­sen­gers, called Joz­ibear 24/7, has en­tered the mar­ket.

App-based com­pa­nies don’t own the ve­hi­cles but merely fa­cil­i­tate the rides, mak­ing their fares gen­er­ally cheaper than other taxi op­er­a­tors.

These days com­muters can use Uber, a US com­pany started in 2009 and en­ter­ing South Africa in 2014. It op­er­ates in 58 coun­tries.

Fol­low­ing on its heels was Tax­ify, an Es­to­nian com­pany ac­tive in 15 coun­tries.

Joz­ibear went live last Oc­to­ber and is avail­able in Joburg, Dur­ban and Cape Town, but hopes to ex­pand to Nige­ria and Mozam­bique.

Founder Craig Geswindt said its op­er­a­tions were sim­i­lar to the other two app-based com­pa­nies.

“We al­ready have 100 driv­ers on board whom we screen through in­ter­views, fin­ger­print­ing and check­ing of crim­i­nal records,” he said.

There were at least four in­ci­dents last year in which pas­sen­gers were at­tacked in Uber ve­hi­cles. Three of the cases took place in the Four­ways/ Sun­ninghill area. Pas­sen­gers had climbed into the ve­hi­cles and were then at­tacked by rob­bers hid­ing in ei­ther the back­seat or boot.

In two of the mat­ters, the women were al­legedly raped, robbed and as­saulted.

Two men were ar­rested but the charges against them were later pro­vi­sion­ally with­drawn.

With the new ser­vice, pas­sen­gers would be asked to tip the driv­ers if their ser­vice was good, said Geswindt. Uber and Tax­ify leave this to the pas­sen­gers’ dis­cre­tion.

“We be­lieve that this will psy­cho­log­i­cally as­sist in mak­ing our driv­ers take ex­tra spe­cial care when driv­ing pas­sen­gers,” he said.

The Joz­iBear app was in­tro­duced in the City of Joburg in April last year. Ac­cord­ing to the web­site, a site which com­pares taxi costs, it of­fers the least ex­pen­sive rates.

Many of the larger taxi com­pa­nies are also now us­ing apps to ar­range rides.

We finger­print them and check for crim­i­nal records

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