Uber hikes its fares as petrol price rises

Uber hikes its fares as petrol price rises.
Uber hikes its fares as petrol price rises.
Image: 123RF/ Piotr Adamowicz

In a statement sent to customers‚ Uber announced that its fares were going up from Tuesday‚ July 31.

“The minimum fare for your UberX rides throughout South Africa will be increased from R20 to R25. The Port Elizabeth uberGO minimum fare has also changed from R17 to R20‚” the company said.

The company’s UberX rides are the low-cost option for riders.

Uber said the price increases were made to benefit their drivers.

“We are making various changes and improvements to help provide reliable earning opportunities for driver-partners and a reliable service for you‚” the company added.

“As more drivers look to Uber as an earning opportunity‚ this small increase will still make it possible for riders to access affordable transport whilst providing profitable earnings for driver-partners.”

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has also announced taxi fare increases of R1 to R10 for local trips and R1 to R20 for long-distance journeys from August 1. Santaco cited the sharply rising cost of fuel and additional burden of a fuel levy hike.

Uber said it was also introducing something new for its drivers.

“To show our appreciation and recognition of our driver-partners’ loyalty‚ we are currently rolling out a pilot tiered service fee. The more trips completed by a driver-partner and the higher their rating‚ the lower their weekly Uber service fee is‚” the company said.

This could come as a much needed boost for Uber drivers who last month put the brakes on the vehicles‚ switched off their apps and headed to the Uber offices in Johannesburg in protest.

The drivers claimed to be working at a loss because of the petrol price hike.

They handed over a list of demands to the company‚ which among other things included a demand that Uber reduce its 25% take of every ride to 15%. The operators described Uber's current share-take as "theft".

“At this time last year‚ after a hard day’s work and after all expenses such as fuel had been paid‚ I could earn R3‚500 weekly. Now‚ some weeks‚ drivers are barely getting R500 a week‚” one driver said.

It’s a brutal loss of income that he and his colleagues were no longer able to absorb.

He said the problem he encountered was that the expenses were not fixed‚ such as when he gets a long-distance request.

“Nobody pays you to get to the customer‚ or when you come back from a long distance trip‚” he said.

In his case‚ he rents a car from an owner for R2‚000 a week. This includes insurance.

“Add to that the indeterminate petrol costs. You must also factor in the cost of data for all the trips you need to make and the driver must also have food for the usually 12-hour shifts they take. These add up to costs faced by the driver.

“That is why we ask that Uber must reduce the 25% it takes from the fares.”

At the time‚ Uber had issued a statement‚ saying it was committed to doing as much as possible to ensure that Uber remained a meaningful earning opportunity for its partners.

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