Uber grabs popularity faster, but yet to satisfy many users

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 20 Aug 2017, 22:23:31

Uber grabs popularity faster, but yet to satisfy many users

Passengers want review of fares, service options suitable for different segments
Doulot Akter Mala

The riders and driver-partners of Uber, an international on-demand ride-sharing company, marked a two-fold increase in Bangladesh in over eight months period due to making available their services to the passengers in Dhaka and elsewhere.

Launched in Dhaka on November 22 last year, the services have so far received an overwhelming response for providing 'safe' transportation and minimising sufferings of the users.

Dhaka has emerged as one of the fastest growing markets in Asia Pacific, said a spokesman of Uber in response to a query of the FE.

"We are continuing to bring on board the driver partners in Dhaka; and everyday riders are signing up to satisfy their needs to go different places in Dhaka, all at the tap of a button," he said.

Dhaka suffers from some of the worst traffic congestion in the world.

There is an appetite for more options of reliable, efficient and affordable ways to get to and from the works and move around Dhaka, especially on routes underserved by the public transports, the spokesman says.

Uber uses smartphone apps and able to provide services using existing infrastructure. No additional investment for infrastructural development is required for the service.

Riders, who have already availed of the services, put forward some suggestions included introduction of more options depending on different income-group of people, allowing different types of cars based on requirements, clearly defining peak and off-peak hour fares etc.

Chowdhury Samiul Sayed, relationship manager of IDLC, said the service has made the communication easier than that of taxicabs, which are not so available and start billing just after getting the requisition of a car.

"Uber is more convenient," he said. "I am almost a regular user of the service and feel the need for introduction of more options like the existing two -- 'Uber X' and 'Uber select' -- to make the services affordable for middle-income group of people."

Old model cars in good conditions, both air-conditioned and non air-conditioned ones, should be made available on-demand, he said. The service can be made more economic if hatchback cars allowed along with the Sedan, micro and premium condition cars.

Currently, the rates are same for all types of cars in Uber, he added.

He pointed out that there were allegations over not having any clear definition on peak hour and off-peak hour fare in the service. "Charging fare can be made more elaborative by furnishing kilometre-wise, waiting charge, base-fare in the bills," he added.

Uber service is comparatively reasonable for short distance like one to three kilometers, but it seemed expensive for long-distance travel inside the Dhaka city.

Another regular user of the services Moushumi Rahman, who is a new entrepreneur, said that it took around Tk 200-300 from Paltan to Panthapath, but from Paltan to Mirpur Uber shows a fare of Tk 700 to 850.

The long-distance fare is pretty high and difficult to afford for middle-income group of people, she said, suggesting the Uber authority to review the cost to make it affordable for middle-income people.

Uber also offers different incentives to encourage riders, she said, but it offers up to 75 per cent discount which is not more than Tk 100. However, she appreciated the fast service and availability of transport.

The services minimised people's sufferings due to non-availability of vehicles in some areas, refusal by the drivers of CNG auto-rickshaws, insufficient taxicabs and transportation of patients.

The Uber-registered car drivers are from different educational background who found the service as one of the best way of 'side-earning' in a leisure time.

This correspondent availed a car of Uber from Paltan to Bashudhara City Shopping Complex. The driver was an electrical engineer having three cars of his own and drives for Uber part time, especially on holidays, to make some extra income.

Responding to queries of the FE, the Uber authority said it was continuing experiments with products to ensure most reliable, safe, comfortable and affordable ride to everyone, everywhere.

"Our technology offers riders more choice, allows driver-partners to earn sustainable income, and reduces congestion by encouraging people to leave their cars at home," said the Uber spokesperson.

The riders and driver-partners around the world have welcomed our ride-sharing and bike-sharing products while Uber aspiring to bring these to riders in Dhaka, he said.

Uber also integrated with the nationwide emergency number 999 in its rider app to enhance safety of the riders.

In the event of an emergency situation, the riders in an Uber car could now access to an in-app card and press 'Call Now' to connect to the toll-free national help desk, run by the ICT Division of Bangladesh. Once pressed, the rider will be prompted with 999 in their phone dialer.

The introduction of this feature adds to the existing in-built repertoire of safety features in the Uber app.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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