Uber pilots phone call option for cabs

Uber has recently introduced UberASSIST and Uber Lite. PHOTO | AFP 

Taxi hailing firm Uber has introduced the option of calling to request a cab instead of using its app, a step that is likely to broaden the firm’s target market to Kenyans without internet connection.

Users of the call service, which is being piloted with selected clients, will be connected to an Uber representative who will connect the caller to a driver and give the fare quote for the trip.

“We are testing with a small cohort of riders how people can request an Uber with the help on an agent over the phone. We continue to look into ways to make our technology available and easy to use by riders - but this is still in a very early pilot phase,” an Uber spokesperson said in response to Business Daily’s queries.

The service has been available in Nairobi since early this month with users, who do not need to have Uber accounts, only able to pay for their trips in cash.

“Once you get off the phone, you will receive your driver’s details via SMS. Meet them at the agreed pick-up location,” said a post by the e-hailing company on its website.


“You can request a ride without an Uber account. During your first call, you will be asked to provide your name/last name for registration.”

Future trips

According to the tech firm, the service is available all the time. Riders, however, cannot schedule future trips via the call service or add stops, with the add-on services currently only possible with an app.

This comes barely a few months after the app company launched its ‘Uber Lite’ version pushing its service to users conscious of data usage and low-memory smartphones. The version was also targeting users in low network areas keen on using the service.

Uber has been piloting services in Kenya to boost its market share as it competes with Bolt (formerly Taxify) and Little for tech-savvy riders.

In January, Uber started the pilot of the service dubbed UberASSIST in Nairobi designed to help those with accessibility difficulties to ride with ease.