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Three's a crowd as new taxi app enters SA

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Weride is set to launch in SA and Israel by the end of March.
Weride is set to launch in SA and Israel by the end of March.

Competition in the taxi app market in SA is about to heat up, as a third entrant is preparing to make its services available in the country.

Weride will launch in Israel as well as SA by the end of March. The countries will be the first markets where the app will become available and operational.

The Israeli-headquartered taxi app operates similar to other e-hailing transport services, but the focus on giving job opportunities to students and the option to use an interactive voice response (IVR) system make its business model different, the company says.

Weride told ITWeb it believes its service will be popular in SA as it appeals to a relatively young and confident audience in terms of drivers, and will encourage users to support students.

"Our model offers a cheap and easy alternative, as well as focusing on giving job opportunities to students. I believe the large market in South Africa, which results in a large amount of users, as well as relatively expensive costs to utilise a taxi, will lead to a reduction in price for the competition, and a focus on what we are offering."

Safety first

Weride's plans to launch its taxi app service in SA come at the height of violence involving metered-taxi and e-hailing drivers, which in some instances has resulted in fatalities.

Traditional meter taxi operators have been dead-set against the use of alternative app-based taxi services like Uber and Taxify in SA. Earlier this month, the body of a 21-year-old Taxify driver was found in the boot of a burnt car in the City of Tshwane.

While government has vowed to resolve the impasse to ensure safety, taxi app drivers continue to fall victim to the attacks.

Weride points out it is an unfortunate reality that many countries suffer with conflict between traditional meter taxi drivers and operators that use vehicle services such as Uber and Taxify.

The company plans to launch a campaign on TV and in the press, to recommend and encourage safer driving among all taxi drivers. "Although it is something difficult to control, we believe this will enhance the safety of our drivers.

"We can only encourage our drivers to be vigilant and safe at all times and to make cautious decisions while on the job."

Student-centric

Moshe Yaakobi, CEO and owner of Weride.
Moshe Yaakobi, CEO and owner of Weride.

Making its service open to student drivers is Weride's way of allowing the student population, who often struggle to find part-time and flexible work, a chance to earn an income, the company explained.

According to Weride, students will be able to turn their vehicles into transportation services to allow them to work between classes and over the weekends to make extra money.

The company is getting ready to find drivers and has encouraged students to sign up. "If a student would like to be a Weride driver but doesn't have access to their own vehicle, they can contact Hertz and receive a vehicle under preferred conditions."

It adds: "All drivers must have a valid driver's licence for the country in which they reside and we will be verifying all drivers' licences too before approval.

"Through the supervision of local infrastructure and also through our technological means, we will ensure only students who are actively studying at a university can be a driver. The student will have to present a student card during their application process, and we will verify with the university that he or she is studying there."

Competitive edge

Unlike other taxi apps, Weride has added an IVR system to the app's functionality as part of a value-added services offering.

This will allow blind customers and adults who are not technologically advanced to easily order a Weride taxi operator, the company revealed. "The IVR system was developed by us and provides a response by saying the address aloud to confirm it once the customer has said it. The system will identify your location and send you a vehicle, and you will receive voice confirmation on the arrival of the vehicle."

As far as Weride taxi drivers are concerned, the company noted it will only pay if they are actively working or travelling, and only 5% of the passenger's travel cost will be charged to them.

"We will invest in our drivers and give them a lot of incentives, such as Weride travel coupons which they can give to friends and relatives. From a consumer point of view, we will be cheaper than the competition and more attractive in terms of our fast, safe and efficient service offering, including the IVR system for customers who are blind or have aging eyes."

The Weride app can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

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