Users of Uber X taxis will from next Monday pay up to 29 percent higher charges in a big win for the digital cab drivers who have been pushing for fare increases, citing high operating costs.
The price increases by Uber come just weeks after its biggest rival, Bolt, removed the budget fares option known as Bolt Go, effectively raising charges for its users.
An Uber X trip from Nairobi CBD to Buru Buru for instance will now cost a minimum of about Sh600 when there is minimal traffic, a 29 percent increase from the previous rate while trips to Nairobi West and Westlands will cost about Sh400, more than 25 percent higher than the previous rates.
The digital taxi operators have been grappling with frequent drivers’ strikes in recent months, with operators calling for fare increases to cover increased fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.
In a notice to its partners, Uber said it will increase ChapChap and UberX rates in the latest price review that will see driver earnings rise significantly and the cost of journeys go up by an average of about 26 percent for the UberX category and 13 percent for ChapChap users, previously Uber’s version of a budget option.
Riders taking the new premium option, UberX, are set to pay Sh11 more per kilometre to Sh38 and a shilling extra per minute charge, with those hailing the ChapChap option required to pay Sh22, which is Sh4 higher per kilometre.
Base fare for Chap Chap and Uber X categories remains unchanged at Sh80 and Sh85, respectively, however, with shortest rides costing Sh50 more to Sh150 for ChapChap and Sh200 for the UberX option.
A Sh4 per minute flat rate fee applied previously, but Uber X users will now pay Sh5 per minute.
Riders taking the ChapChap option will in addition be required to pay Sh8 extra per kilometre after the trip exceeds 11 kilometres, significantly increasing the cost of rides to areas such as the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The move to increase the charges is likely to affect frequency of usage of the digital cabs.
“From Monday, 26 August 2019, Uber will be introducing changes to Uber ChapChap and UberX. These changes have been informed by your continued feedback and many months of thorough reviews on the growth and sustainability of your earnings opportunity,” said Uber in a notice sent to drivers and partners on Tuesday.
The new prices will see vehicles on ChapChap option pay 25 percent commission on the first 15 weekly trips and thereafter remit three percent on the remaining journeys completed. The 25 percent commission charge on total earnings remains unchanged for vehicles on the UberX category.
Bolt’s decision to do away with the Go service has forced riders to use the standard (Base) option, which led to about 30 percent increase in fares.
Uber has also scrapped off UberSelect - the premium category - and in its place will be the UberX which will only enlist cars with an engine capacity of above 1300cc.
The new Uber model also disables the driver’s ability to switch between categories - taking away the freedom that they previously enjoyed especially during low demand timelines when most switched to the budget option to tap more trips.
“Uber ChapChap will be everyday compact ride. The driver preferences or ‘switch’ feature will no longer be available and all small hatchbacks with an engine capacity of 1,300cc or less will now only be eligible for Uber ChapChap trips.”
Uber has followed a similar move made by Bolt, formerly Taxify, which in July 19 did away with the Go category and aligned the rates to the recommended AA charges, increasing driver earnings by about 20 percent as riders were only left with the costlier Base option.
Bolt Nairobi tariff’s for the base option riders pay Sh27 and Sh50 for the XL category for the first 25 kilometres. A flat fee of Sh4 across the categories and Sh100 base fare and Sh85 for the XL and base options applies.
“It is important to note that we have always put our drivers first. We truly believe that happy drivers means a better quality service for clients. This explains why we’ve been doing extensive reviews of our tariffs over the past few months to ensure that we continue to provide best earnings for our driver partners and still remain the most preferred platform by customers,” said Bolt country manager Ola Akinnusi during the price review.