Who would’ve thought a company like Uber would come to a small country like Sri Lanka. But they did, and they officially went live on 22nd October 2015. http://readme.lk/ayubowan-uber-sri-lanka/
So I signed up and used my promotional discounts today on 2 rides (UBERINCMB is the code). Overall impression – I like it 🙂
I like the fact that Uber only focusing on cars, the only major provider in cars is kangaroo and Uber will directly compete with them. Safe to say all the 3-Wheel taxi services have no competition from uber, the nanos might have some in terms of pricing.
Also the drivers were very pleasant and friendly, no reckless driving, which under a company I’ve only seen among kangaroo drivers. Not going to say anything on three wheelers, but for nanos most of the drivers I’ve encountered in the past are good, but still 2 out of 10 nano rides I take, I meet a driver who’d drive upside down if he could.
I’m a frequent user of Budget Taxi, time to time Kangaroo and I haven’t used pick me yet (no rides available when I needed in my area). I live in Piliyandala and I have to say yesterday there were plenty of rides available around my area. Not sure if Uber intentionally follows a ride distribution mechanism.
My first ride was from Piliyandala to Nugegoda, at around 6 pm and then around 9:00 pm I came back from Nugegoda. On both trips I had no troubles on finding rides.
Both of the rides I got were Toyota Prius, the 2008 models to be specific.
Still a Novel Concept For The Drivers
In both trips after I request, both drivers called me and asked for directions (Even though they had my location right there on the mobile). Car drivers might be bit behind the tech compared to three wheel drivers who use pick me. Any who, I had to speak with them few times before taking the ride. Hopefully once they get used to the service it’ll go away. But for the time being it’s like our usual standards, voice confirmation is necessary. So before you request a ride, make sure that you’re not in a meeting.
This is an obvious one, after a ride is requested the estimated arrival time uber gives is no where near the realistic times, which is understandable. From a little chat I had with the drivers, sometimes due to this fact drivers had to reject requests. So keep in mind, even though app shows an arrival time of 5 – 6 minutes, in reality it will drag unless you are requesting a cab at midnight.
My return ride, took almost 15 minutes to arrive while uber showed he’s just 5 minutes away.
Fare estimates came pretty close for me, so I’d say it’s accurate and you can get a good idea.
Pricing & Payment Options
Keep in mind that, even though Uber offers Paypal, it doesn’t work. It’ll ask you to set up a credit card when you try to request a ride.
Good For The Tourists
I’m not sure if this has been a game plan of Uber. Since Uber is popular among other countries, most of the foreigners who come to sri lanka are already familiar with the service, and surprise! we are in the tourist season right now, so Uber good timing on the launch! Apparently I was the only sri lankan hire my return ride had yesterday, and he had 8 rides.
If I could rate, I’d say 10 for the payments. You just need to link your credit card and you can forget about pulling the wallet out. For the taxi requests, I still had to speak with the riders couple of time, this will of course change down the road.
If there’s one thing Uber is famous for besides disrupting the transport industry, it’s stirring up controversy. Since it started expanding, Uber has had to solve a mountain of legal issues wherever it went. The problem is that these issues have always surrounded Uber in a layer of controversy. None of it pretty.
But in Sri Lanka, I have a hard time believing Uber will face a similar situations. To start off, as far as I know, we don’t have government’s involvement in car taxi industry or licensing systems (yet). And the cab drivers Uber uses right now are experienced drivers who has been in the field for years, at least the ones I spoke to, so I’m counting on professionalism of drivers to be remain.
All in all, it’s good to see a multi-national company like Uber coming to Sri Lanka, it’s only a matter of time we see if it’ll stick around, but nevertheless Uber coming to sri lanka will make new standards in the taxi industry, which is something we need, big time.