South Africans build Uber-like service for minibus taxi industry

Have you ever waited along the road for a minibus taxi to pass, and when it does it’s already full? A new digital platform launched in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town aims to connect commuters with registered taxi drivers at the click of a button. 

Loop is a Cape Town-based tech start-up that enables commuters to book a minibus taxi for once-off trips.

The platform was designed with input from local taxi associations, drivers, and commuters.

Loop drivers are registered taxi drivers that are part of a taxi association. Payments can be made in cash or electronically.

Loop founder Imtiyaaz Riley (left) says he got the idea for the platform from seeing challenges experienced by members and customers of the Manenberg Taxi Association, where his father is also a member.

He says the platform aims to solve issues including digital payments and accountability within the taxi industry.

“We’re trying to create an extra market where taxi drivers can also benefit and drive more taxi trips daily with a seamless and safer approach.”

Jamie Wyngaard (right), Loop chief experience officer, explains that taxis are usually full in the mornings and late afternoons, but at other times drivers struggle to find customers.

“We are giving them access to clients that they weren’t able to get before.”

Minibus taxi driver Renshaw Smith that Loop’s clients have already given him more trips during the quiet part of the day. He says being paid directly into his bank account rather than having to keep cash is great for his safety. Credit: Ashraf Hendricks

Like a trip on an e-hailing service, clients will be able to message a number on their WhatsApp and insert their current location and where they want to go.

Clients will then receive prompts on where to wait, how much the trip will cost, who the driver is and the registration of the vehicle.

Loop is still going through testing phases and not accepting trips for one person only.

Wyngaard says the platform solves many safety issues for passengers and drivers.

He says trips are expected to cost about R2.50 per km per person.

The service is intended to operate round the clock.

Wyngaard says they are figuring out which routes are best to pilot the project and currently have the buy-in of about 15 drivers, mostly from the Cape Flats, with another 2,500 drivers waiting for the project to accelerate.

Loop taxi drivers must have valid licences, must belong to a taxi association, and must have roadworthy vehicles manufactured in 2015 or later.

Loop logo on a minibus taxi. Credit: Ashraf Hendricks

By Ashraf Hendricks, first published on GroundUp. Republished under CC BY-ND 4.0.

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South Africans build Uber-like service for minibus taxi industry