Uber 'could cut' Joburg traffic by 800 000 cars

The headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg, AP)
The headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg, AP)

Johannesburg - Internet ride-sharing app Uber says it could theoretically reduce Johannesburg traffic by almost one million cars if it introduces its car pooling option in South Africa.

Uber launched in South Africa in 2013, and the service is available in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

Over half a million riders in South Africa have used Uber since its launch.

But while Uber offers its uberX, uberBLACK and uberSUV offerings in the country, it is yet to introduce its uberPOOL option locally.

uberPOOL matches riders heading in the same direction and costs less than the uberX option, according to Uber’s website.

"Imagine we can put 2 or 3 or 4 people in the same car,” Alon Lits, Uber's head of Sub-Saharan Africa, told a media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday.

"We have a huge ability. I think that the number is that over one million cars are going into Johannesburg everyday. I think it's 1.8 million.

"Imagine if we could reduce that by 800 000. And we've run the numbers and we think we can do that through a product like uberPOOL,” said Lits.

The total number of motor cars and station wagons in the whole of Gauteng was 2.9 million in February 2016 according to the National Traffic Information System (eNaTIS).

Imminent launch?

Jambu Palaniappan, who is Uber’s regional general manager for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, was also at the briefing on Thursday, but he was tight-lipped on whether uberPOOL could be launched soon in South Africa.

"I won't break any news on that today but I certainly will let you guys know when that's in,” said Palaniappan.

"Hopefully we'll be able to bring that product here soon. But I think there is so much potential for evolving and continuing to evolve how we think about personal transport,” added Palaniappan.

The uberPOOL service is currently available in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, London, Shanghai and Mexico City.

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