Tag Archive: Uber

Weekly Thoughts 29 July 2016

I have, on occasion when travelling in Johannesburg, used Uber taxis. I always ask the driver if the car is theirs or if they’re driving for someone else. If it is their own car, then they are running their own business. If they are driving someone else’s car then they are working for someone and receive a portion of each trip they make. On a side note, a friend who moved from Pietermaritzburg to Cape Town about 18 months ago, started up his own Uber business down there. He now has four cars, each with a driver. He manages his business for a couple of hours a day. Back to my story…

I used an Uber taxi again on my trip to Johannesburg this past month. This time I asked the driver, who in this case was driving his own car, if he had experienced any hostility or problems from other taxi drivers or associations. He had. When picking up a passenger at a Gautrain Station recently, another taxi driver came up to his car, began banging on the car and then opened the passenger door and intimidated the passenger until she got out. He says that now, if it is an area that could have these problems, he phones the client and asks them to walk a short way away from their pick up point where he then meets them. But interestingly he had already observed the economic or business situation that is happening here. That in almost all cases the Uber taxis were not actually taking passengers away from the minibuses or regular phone-for-a-cab taxis. He said that the regular Uber customer would not have called another taxi and that most were new to the taxi way of travel. He went on to say that most users of the existing taxi industry did not have the means to pay via the method required to pay for Uber, so they would not cross over to Uber. He’s right. I would have rented a car, not called another taxi or got on a minibus. He said its about choice. I said yes, like democracy. We laughed at that.