Uber vs Bolt – The cheapest ride-hailing app in South Africa

MyBroadband has compared the trip fares of the two biggest e-hailing apps in the country – Uber and Bolt – to see which service is the cheapest.

These apps have become a popular choice for many South Africans, particularly due to the lack of high-quality public transport in the country.

Uber and Bolt have established themselves as the preferred on-demand ride-hailing platforms in South Africa.

These apps offer great convenience, allowing users to order a lift from one specific location to another directly from their mobile device.

Uber, the world’s biggest ride hailing app, first launched in South Africa back in August 2013.

It currently provides its ride hailing in five major cities – Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth.

Locally, Uber’s biggest competitor is Bolt, previously known as Taxify, which started operating in the country in 2016.

Its ride-hailing service is available in all of Uber’s locations, in addition to 17 other cities and towns, including East London, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Potchefstroom, Rustenburg, Queenstown, and Upington.

Ride options and fare calculations

Uber and Bolt offer a range of vehicle options to cater to the particular needs of each user.

In simple terms, these can be categorised as follows:

  • Standard – UberX/Bolt
  • Budget – UberNAM/Bolt Go
  • Luxury – UberBLACK/Bolt Premium
  • Large capacity –  UberVAN/Bolt XL

The availability of vehicle options may vary by location and according to demand.

Both Uber and Bolt provide their users with an upfront fair estimate for a trip they want to book with any one of these vehicles.

These fares are calculated using a combination of metrics, including:

  • A base rate – The price for pickup.
  • Rates for estimated time and distance of the route.
  • The current demand for rides in the area.

Uber adds that a booking fee and any applicable surcharges, fees, and tolls are also calculated and included.

Comparing prices

We compared the estimated charges for 24 trips – 12 on the same routes from each operator – in the South African cities which they both service.

To ensure a like-for-like comparison, we selected identical pick-up and destination locations for each trip – many of which were popular landmarks or transport hubs.

We also requested these trip estimates around the same time – between 14:00 and 15:00 – on a weekday.

In each area, we requested an estimate for a short, medium, and long-distance trips on their respective main services – UberX and Bolt.

Our comparison showed that Bolt’s base service was significantly cheaper than UberX in every case.

Differences in distances

In multiple instances, Bolt was more than R100 cheaper than UberX, particularly when it came to longer distances.

The biggest discrepancy was on a 76km trip from Joe Cool’s restaurant in Durban to the UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

For this route, Bolt’s upfront fair estimate was R175 cheaper than Uber’s.

However, shorter trips of below 10km were similarly priced, with differences coming down to as low as R6.

On average, a Bolt trip was priced at R262 compared to UberX trips of R338 – a 29% difference.

When dividing these amounts by the average distance travelled, Bolt’s pricing came down to around R7 per km, while Uber’s was in the range of R9 per kilometre.

The table below shows the total and average distances and prices for all 12 trips on Uber and Bolt.

All trips
Uber Bolt
Total distance 448km
Average distance 37km
Total price R4,055 R3,139
Average price per trip R338 R262

Johannesburg and Pretoria

Johannesburg and Pretoria area trips
Route Distance UberX Bolt
Montecasino Teatro -> Sandton Gautrain Station 13km R193 R106
Protea Hotel Fire & Ice Menlyn -> OR Tambo International Airport 43km R422 R300
Newtown Junction -> Union Buildings Gardens 58km R541 R493
Total  114km R1,156 R899
Average 38km R385 R300

Johannesburg city skyline


Cape Town

Cape Town area trips
Route Distance UberX Bolt
V&A Waterfront -> Table Mountain Aerial Cableway 8km R74 R68
Somerset West Post Office -> Stellenbosch University 20km R188 R149
Cape Town International Airport -> Melkbosstrand Country Club 51km R445 R286
Total 79km R707 R503
Average 26km R236 R168

 

Cape Town Picture


Durban

Durban area trips
Route Distance Uber Bolt
uShaka Marine World -> Cubana 6km R60 R51
King Shaka International Airport -> Moses Mabhida Stadium 30km R257 R219
Joe Cool’s -> University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg 76km R667 R492
Total 112km R984 R762
Average 37km R328 R254

durban


Port Elizabeth
Route Distance Uber Bolt
BayWest Mall -> Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 15km R132 R114
Bayworld -> AutoPavilion 36km R320 R243
Radisson Blu Hotel Port Elizabeth -> Jeffrey’s Bay Main Beach 92km R756 R618
Total 143km R1,208 R975
Average  48km R403 R325

Port Elizabeth


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Uber vs Bolt – The cheapest ride-hailing app in South Africa