Getting to Know Uber
What is the concept behind Uber and where did it first start?
Uber, a smartphone application that connects drivers to passengers in the area, was founded to solve the need for reliable transportation, wherever and whenever. The idea first came about when founders Travis Kalanick and Gareth Camp were in Paris and were having a hard time finding a taxi – they thought, “What if you could push a button to request your very own private transport to appear?” This idea is what then became Uber. Starting in San Francisco in 2009, it is now in over 310 cities across 56 countries.
Why did you start Uber in Cairo?
Cairo is a progressive city with a huge population of people on the move. Transport is available but we are here to provide an alternative choice to move around the city. For riders, we are providing a very high level of safety, transparency and reliability in getting around. We get lots of feedback from riders about this being one of the most convenient ways they have gotten around Cairo. For drivers, we are providing additional economic benefits and flexible work hours.
Why do you think Uber has taken off so well around the world?
As a smartphone app, we are offering an unprecedented level of safety and transparency to the market. When a rider requests a ride, they see the driver’s name, photo and car license plate before even getting in the car – they can then share their route with family and friends via the GPS enabled map. You get the same experience in any of the 310 cities we operate in so we are helping build a mobility network not only within cities, but between countries and regions as well. We are also generating economic opportunity for 50,000 jobs around the world and are excited to bring that type of opportunity to Cairo.
How many cars do you have operating in Egypt?
As a technology company, we don’t employ drivers or own cars – instead we partner with licensed drivers and transportation providers in order to use our platform. While we don’t disclose numbers, I can say our focus is to grow our supply base – the number of drivers we partner with – to meet demand as steadily as possible. We have been growing (double digit) month on month.
How can we make a booking?
Riders first have to download the Uber app from the app store or on uber.com. Payment is made via credit or debit card details safely stored in the app.
How has it been received in Cairo?
The response has been amazing. The drivers we partner with are also starting to see better economic opportunity and that is something extremely important to us.
Have you had to make any modifications to the usual operating procedures to fit with local social habits i.e. ladies only vehicles?
Because we don’t own a fleet of cars or employ the drivers, we only want to build upon the existing licensed supply – however we are open to future initiatives that would bring more safety in helping people get around and ‘ladies only vehicles’ is an interesting one.
Where in Egypt does Uber operate?
We are available throughout all of Cairo, even in areas that would have otherwise not been as accessible such as 6th October and Rehab. You can generally get a ride via Uber in about 10 minutes anywhere in Cairo. However, we do go to places like Alexandria, Sa7el and Hurghada and you can find an estimate of all of our flat rate fares for trips outside of Cairo on our city blog, uber.com/cairo.
Will you have Uber cars operating in Sa7el this summer?
Yes, we are very excited to be partnering with drivers over there and have some very exciting activations and campaigns coming up so please stay tuned and be sure to follow us on social media for the latest updates!
How does your pricing compare with the local white taxis?
We estimate the journey via time and distance. The base for our current promotional pricing starts at EGP 3 and then goes up EGP 0.2 per minute plus EGP 1.3 per kilometer. Our minimum fare is at 8 EGP.
In a time when people are more vigilant, what can you tell us about your security standards?
Safety is our number one priority. For riders, Uber connects users with safe transportation on-demand, wherever and whenever they choose, at the touch of a button. The seamless experience means never having to worry about finding a ride or having cash, and most importantly, users know who their driver is before getting in the car. Screening for safe drivers is just the beginning of our safety efforts. Our process includes prospective and regular checks of drivers’ motor vehicle records to ensure ongoing safe driving. All drivers must be fully licensed to drive and have insurance for their vehicle.
Background Check: Drivers are screened via an incredibly rigorous background check process. Fingerprints are matched against existing criminal records and additional cross-checking is done to verify things such as name/physical address/identity in Cairo.
Drug Test: We require a mandatory drug test from each one of our drivers, which is then re-screened periodically to ensure all records are up to date.
One-on-One Interviews: We conduct multiple face-to-face interviews prior to hiring all our drivers. This is done to ensure that we select the most qualified candidates with the strongest performance record.
Referrals: We inquire with current drivers, former employers, neighbours, social acquaintances, etc for driver recommendations.
Taken together, these sources paint a thorough picture of each driver’s upstanding character.
Do you have non-smoking vehicles?
We don’t own a fleet of cars, but instead work with the existing supply. We do tell drivers that they should not be smoking in cars and if we get consistent complaints – via the rider feedback and ratings system – about a car smelling like smoke, we let the driver know it is an issue with the intention to not allow it.
Is there a telephone operator you can speak to?
As a forward-thinking company, we don’t have a telephone operator but we have a team working around the clock that responds as soon as possible when a rider sends an email to [email protected] or via the feedback form that appears in the app at the end of the trip. Keeping it on e-mail allows us to know exactly which trip the rider is referring to.
How does the driver find my location?
Your phone’s GPS may not always be able to pinpoint your exact location as accurately as you’d like. If you’re indoors, your phone may have trouble establishing a good connection to the satellite(s) responsible for letting it find your location.
The pin displayed in your Uber app tells your driver where to pick you up. By moving the map on the Uber app you can re-center the pin so that it accurately reflects your location. On the latest version of the app, you can also click ‘Pickup Location’ and manually enter and search for your address.