Traveling from South Africa to first world countries always opens my eyes to the vast chasm that exists between the way things are and how they should be. This is not an entirely negative sentiment mind you; I always find that basic things like food and accommodation are a lot more affordable here (and in most countries considered to be third world), as is entertainment and alcohol, which is a very good thing for all of us, first world residents included. One thing that always strikes me though is the public transport systems and infrastructure abroad versus home.
There, the trains, buses and taxis are abundant, and are often the preferred method of transport, even though we’d consider the rates high. In South Africa, there isn’t much structure and everyone has their own car that they use on a daily basis. This is all good and well, and we do this so that we don’t have to be subjected to our incredibly sub-par and frankly, dangerous transport system. The only problem is when you go out for a couple of drinks.
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Driving under the influence of alcohol is a big problem here, and drunk drivers cause too many accidents on our roads throughout the year. But what do you do if you’re out and have had too many? You take a taxi right? Yes, that would be the responsible thing to do, just make sure you don’t get taken the long way, or told that the meter is broken. Uber changes all of this.
Recently launched in South Africa, Uber wants to be your very own personal chauffeur, using a well-balanced combination of technology and style to get you to your desired destination. You simply create a profile with your personal and credit card details (securely stored, of course), and you’re ready to go. Fire up the app to pinpoint your exact pickup location, choose your drop-off destination and accept the quote. You’ll then be given a pickup time and start seeing a little black car making its way to you on the map.
Information is given on the driver, the car he’s in, his rating and the vehicle’s registration number. You’re also connected to him in real-time so that you can communicate your exact location if the map isn’t as accurate as it should be.
Once your driver arrives in his sleek sedan (mine was a beautiful silver Mercedes-Benz) he’ll open the door for you, introduce himself and make sure of your drop-off destination. From there, it’s all about looking suave and sophisticated until you get to the front door of your drop-off point. When you arrive, the only cash you handle is whatever you decided to tip your driver, as your fare is automatically charged to your credit card (definitely my kind of convenience!). From there you’re sent confirmation of your trip and fare, and asked for a quick rating of your driver and the journey, before being sent a receipt (great for business trips).
As you’ve probably realised by now, I am highly impressed with the service and I must admit, quite surprised about that fact that I only found out about the app and service now, seeing it’s active in nineteen countries. I’m even more surprised by the fact that it’s come to Cape Town and works so well here. I used the service on Saturday night for the first time and just couldn’t believe it worked without a hitch, so well done to the local team for a great job.
So the service is great, what about the actual app? All I can say is that from the moment I first launched it, I was impressed. Registration is quick and easy, and the entire process of setting up and requesting a ride takes less than five minutes, great for first time users. It also looks amazing and you can see that a lot of work has gone into making sure that the quality of the service is foreshadowed with the app experience. The speed of the app will always be determined by your mobile operator’s coverage in the area but I tested with one bar (or dot, in iOS 7) and it worked perfectly, even the little black car navigating towards my point on the map moved perfectly.
Verdict: All in all – if you’re looking to hit the town in style, and not end up in prison or as a human-trafficking statistic, I highly recommend Uber. Plus, if you register with the promo code “burnmedia” you’ll get R100 off your next two rides.