Uber adds multiple stops, but still no shared rides in Kampala

Uber has added a new feature to their ridesharing app that allows riders to request with multiple stops. A rider can now add up to three stops on one trip.

The addition started showing in the app on Thursday. Uber, in an email sent out to users, said it was to make multiple stops easy.

The feature was added to UberX, the only one operating in Uganda. In other cities around the world, Uber offers an UberPOOL option for convenient shared routes. The driver can take a maximum of 2 trip requests per pickup and 4 other requests on the route, who then pay discounted fares.

But Uber drivers in Kampala are unlikely to welcome such an option. Their biggest dissatisfaction since the Silicon Valley- based company entered the Uganda market has been pricing. Most of the drivers were taxicab drivers and many of them currently drive Uber full-time. They expect to make more than what the app currently offers.

Uber currently charges Shs150 per minute on trip, Shs750 per kilometre driven, and a base fare of Shs1,100. A cancellation fee of Shs3000 is charged to riders who cancel their requests after more than five minutes. Airport and Entebbe town trips have a flat rate of Shs92,000 and Shs90,000 respectively.

Drivers keep 75% of the fare price for each ride while Uber takes 25%.

The ridesharing app is continually adding features to make its use easier for both riders and drivers. In July, an in-app messaging feature was added to allow drivers and riders to chat without telecom company charges. Drivers welcomed the feature because many of the riders are non-Ugandan residents who have foreign numbers that are expensive to call through a local carrier.

The multiple stops addition is likely to make drivers more comfortable with riders who require them to stop in multiple places or pick and drop off friends during trips. They are certain that they are losing money on such trips as the fare calculation is assumed to be based on the destination riders enter while requesting.

On a trip the writer took from Kololo to Bunga, with a drop off in Bugolobi, the driver, Musa, was certain he had been cheated. “You have to change the destination or the app calculates without the drop-off,” he said.

Musa thought that the app would not recalculate given the distance and time spent on the trip, and that it was up to the rider to keep changing the destination so it factors in the changes.

Uber will ease such fears. “Your fares adjust as you add or remove stops, based on time and distance rates disclosed in the app,” it says. But since the fare rates remain the same, it is unlikely that drivers like Musa will feel a substantial change in the calculated fare at the end of the trip.