Uber’s cheaper ride-hailing option, Uber Go appears to be providing relief to Lagos residents. But riders say it can’t displace the market leaders because of some shortcomings.

If you live in Lagos and you don’t own a car like me, chances are your biggest challenge is commuting. With about 24 million people scrambling to navigate their way around one of the busiest cities in the world, the absence of a reliable transport system has presented a market opportunity for ride-hailing behemoths such as Uber and Bolt which offer ease of getting a ride and comfort for riders. But the fares can sometimes cost an arm and a leg, depending on who you ask. 

Enter Uber Go, a cheaper ride-hailing option, launched by market leader Uber. According to the company, it promises to be more affordable than UberX—its main ride-hailing service—with fuel-efficient hatchback vehicles—Suzuki Alto or S-Presso—that are presumed to be more affordable to maintain for drivers operating on the Uber app and offers 35% lower cost alternative for riders. 

Uber Go riders who spoke to TechCabal stated while they are sold on the ride-hailing platform because of its affordability, there are still challenges that need to be addressed.

Cheap, but not for everyone

Lola, a rider who asked to be identified by only her first name, said that although Uber Go has become her go-to ride-hailing app because of its affordable fares, she mostly uses it when she goes to certain neighbourhoods on the Island. She complains that the availability of Uber Go in select areas in the state is a challenge on its own.

“I started using Uber Go while I was in Lagos law school to places on the Island and the fare is mostly less than N1,000. But the service isn’t available everywhere in Lagos unlike other ride-hailing options,” she told TechCabal over a call.

She isn’t wrong. Uber Go is currently operational in select areas in Lagos including parts of the Island (excluding Ajah), Yaba, Surulere, and recently Ikeja. On Monday, I tried to book a ride on the Uber app from Ikorodu, but the Uber Go option was missing—an indication that the service isn’t available in my area. Reports have it that Uber is planning to extend Uber Go to other parts of Lagos. 

A viable alternative?

Val Adetunji, another rider, said he finds Uber Go as an alternative, though he uses Bolt more often than other ride-hailing apps. “I’m not overly excited about it [Uber Go] because I already have a preference. But in terms of pricing, Uber Go is cheaper, so I am often tempted to use it,” he said.

Bayo Bankole says he uses Uber Go whenever he is looking for the cheapest fares. He, however, expressed concerns about some of the features of the vehicles. “Because the cars are small, it isn’t advisable for people who would like to carry loads, say photographers going for a photo shoot. If you are just travelling light, then Uber Go is okay. If you need to travel with luggage, then you might want to consider other apps,” he said.

Chidera Okpara, another rider shares a similar view, saying: “I think Uber Go is good for solo trips. Also because of the sizes of the cars, the drivers can always find a way to beat traffic.”

But, for Bankole, while the speed limit on the Uber Go vehicles is important, it could pose a challenge in certain circumstances. “There was a day on Third Mainland Bridge that I was travelling with Uber Go, the road was free but the driver couldn’t go beyond their speed limit of around 80 kilometres per hour else the car starts beeping. So in a situation where there is a security concern at night, the vehicle won’t be able to drive faster,” he narrated to TechCabal. 

Over a ride, an Uber Go driver claimed that the model of the vehicles has particularly made working conditions difficult and hence their recent protest against Moove, the automobile financing startup that rents out the cars to drivers. “These cars aren’t really easy to maintain and they make our work hard. Even with this, we still have to deal with problems of the number of daily trips and daily remittances,” the driver said. 

Ganiu Oloruntade Reporter, TechCabal

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