Is there Uber in South Africa? Yes. Uber is available in over 40 cities in South Africa where it serves over 80% of the urban population. This makes it one of the most reliable and accessible forms of transport in this country. Bolt and InDrive are also available as competitors though have less coverage than Uber. All three are also available in the major airports. In this article, we’ll discuss Uber, the alternatives to Uber in South Africa, which is best, and your options for public transportation.
- Is Uber available in South Africa? – Yes, serving over 80% of the urban population in over 40 cities.
- Best Uber alternatives in South Africa – Bolt and InDrive. Bolt is often cheaper, while InDrive allows fare negotiation.
- Uber’s Presence in South Africa – Uber operates in over 40 cities in South Africa, serving more than 80% of the urban population, making it a predominant and reliable transportation method in the region.
- Major Cities with Uber – Uber is available in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, and many other cities including Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Kimberley, and Ermelo.
- Safety of Uber in South Africa – While Uber is considered safe in South Africa, there have been a few incidents reported. Uber has implemented safety features, including an emergency service line and an option to add trusted contacts on the app to track rides. Riders are advised to confirm the driver’s identity and car registration before boarding.
- Cost of Uber in South Africa – The rates for Uber vary with options like Uber Go and Uber XL. For instance, a 19 km ride to the airport might cost around 186 ZAR on Uber Go.
- Tipping etiquette – from 10%-15%. Uber and other ridesharing apps often provide an option to tip and rate the driver after the ride.
- Airport Ridesharing – Uber and alternatives are available at major airports with designated pick-up points.
Does Uber Operate in Cape Town, Johannesburg & Durban?
Uber has been available in Cape Town, Johannesburg & Durban since 2013. It is easily accessible & safe to use and is the most reliable of the ridesharing services in South Africa (Bolt & InDriver), but the most expensive. However, to combat this, they recently introduced “Uber Go”, which is more affordable, but can only seat 2 people.
Trips start around 16 ZAR ($0.84 USD)/ km off-peak.
In Johannesburg, Uber is a little less reliable, as there are reports of drivers who cancel trips that they see as short trips and those who cancel trips if the customer is paying by card, prioritizing only cash-paying passengers. This makes the service unreliable.
In all cities, Ubers will not go to certain areas because of low-traffic conditions and some areas because of safety issues.
One great service they have recently introduced is parcel delivery. So, if you need a parcel delivered today and it is close by, you can purchase an Uber to send the parcel for you.
Where Does Uber Operate in South Africa?
Uber was launched in South Africa in 2013 and by 2021 they were already operating in over 40 cities, all three major cities; Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, medium cities like Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, and Pretoria to little towns like Kimberley and Ermelo. Basically, Uber is available in all nine provinces of this country.
You can see the full list here.
Is Uber Safe in South Africa?
Uber is safe in South Africa though there have been few reports of riders not feeling safe or something happening to them. Uber is responding by increasing safety features to ensure passengers’ safety. Two of those are an emergency service line you call if there’s an issue and adding a list of trusted contacts onto the app to track your ride.
Most people who have used Uber say it is safe to use as long as you take the necessary precautions and are polite towards the drivers and not overly friendly.
I personally use Uber all the time to run errands, and to go to the airport – I’ve felt safe almost every time I use them. I had one incident where the driver asked to take a detour because he was running out of gas to refill and that made me feel uneasy so I asked my family member to track the trip. There are, however, a few reports of concern that you should be aware of.
Important to note: some people have been attacked, and robbed when using Uber. Additionally, car-jacking is a safety concern in South Africa. For the most part, you should be safe and a lot of Uber drivers will refuse to go to certain areas that are deemed unsafe. Just remain cautious and aware at all times.
Safety Tips for Uber & Ridesharing Services in South Africa
Here are some of the things you can do when riding in an Uber to ensure your safety:
- Do not assume that the driver whose face is on the app is the same driver picking you up. Sometimes a different person picks you up, maybe because for some reason they sent someone else! I always ask them to confirm who they’re picking up without me announcing my name first. This is to at least prove that they’re sharing the same driver app.
- Check the registration number to confirm it’s the same one registered on the app so you don’t get in the wrong car. This almost happened to me because two cars that looked identical were lining one after the other.
- Use Uber or Bolt as they have the most safety features included in the app, with Uber being better for this.
- Get in the habit of asking family members or local friends to track their rides if they don’t feel safe with the driver, especially in instances when the driver asks to take an alternate route or it’s not the same face that’s on the app.
I know some of these are things we take for granted but taking extra care can help a lot.
How Much Does Uber Cost in South Africa?
There are two types of Uber you can get in South Africa, Uber Go and Uber XL. For Uber Go, you will receive a small car that will allow up to 2 people to travel. For Uber XL, you will get a bigger car, which you are most likely to take when there is more than 1 passenger and you have luggage. A 19km ride to the airport costs around 186 ZAR ($9.71) using Uber Go.
For a 5km journey in South Africa Uber costs:
- Uber Go, is the cheapest option, so that works out to 9.70 per km ($2.60 for a 5 km ride)
- Uber XL, costs 13.21 ZAR ($3.66 for a 5 km ride).
The distance from Cape Town Civic Center to the airport is 17 km just to give you an idea.
Before you book, it’s very important that you check your method of payment on your app before you call an Uber as this cannot be changed mid-ride!
Tipping Etiquette for Uber in South Africa
In South Africa tips are usually anything from 10%-15%. This is the standard in SA, but many international travelers tip way more than that when they see how cheap it is compared to their country and if they are happy with the service. The app gives you the option to tip and rate the driver once the ride is complete.
I usually tip when I’m happy with the service. If I am not happy with the service I will not tip.
Uber vs Taxis in South Africa
Cape Town airport has various other taxi or shuttle services that you can consider as options if you don’t want to ride using Uber. The shuttle services will have desks inside the arrivals terminal that you can book from. These are reliable companies that offer a fixed rate depending on where you are going. They are a little more expensive than Uber however security is better as these are companies that have been here for a long time and have a reputation to uphold.
There are additionally taxis that do not have desks inside the airport (ones that flag your attention as you come outside and offer you a ride). I don’t recommend those mostly because they are not registered with any company, so security is a big issue. No one can track your ride and since you may know where you’re going you won’t know anything until you get there. They always try to offer you a better rate than Uber but, safety is more of a priority than saving a couple of rands /dollars.
Can You Get an Uber from The Airport in South Africa?
Yes. All the airports in South Africa have Uber and other rideshare companies. All airports have designated areas marked as “e-hailing services”, for Uber pick-up, so for instance in Cape Town, this will be the ground level of Parkade 1. In Johannesburg that’ll be Zone 2E of Parkade 2. In Durban, you have to walk outside the main entrance. This may change so always check your app for pick-up points.
Uber Alternatives for South Africa
Here are the best Uber alternatives in South Africa:
Bolt is a great alternative to Uber. Their rates are competitive and most often cheaper than Uber. The service is good and the security is good too. They have a reasonable amount of cars though not as many as Uber. I use Bolt a lot, I always compare their rates to Uber and when they are cheaper I go with them. On this example, the airport ride for 19 km costs 163 ZAR making it 8.57 ZAR/km on their cheapest ride. That works out to $2.38 for a 5 km.
InDrive is great if you are a cash-paying customer as it allows you to negotiate your price. It doesn’t have as many safety features as the other two so safety might be a concern, especially if you are traveling at night. They also don’t have as many cars and the the different classes of cars so you have to wait longer for your pick-up. Below is an example of the same ride to the airport though I requested it a bit later in the day compared to the other two, so it’s quite competitive.
Other Alternatives For Transport in South Africa
Local Taxis (Mini busses)
This is the most popular form of transportation in the townships and in the downtown CBD. It is the cheapest ride, but the driving is not for the faint-hearted and it can either be thrilling or not depending on who you are. It’s a similar driving style to the local buses in Thailand. Most cars are also very neglected and dirty. It’s a cheap ride, so expect a cheap and cheerful (maybe) ride.
They also do routes from the CBD to the outer suburbs and townships. Taxi fare from CBD to the Neighborhoods Market in Woodstock (4kms) may cost 10 ZAR ($0.52).
There are many local bus options in South Africa. For instance in Cape Town, there are 2 types of local bus.
- MyCiti Bus is owned by the city of Cape Town
- Golden Arrow is a local bus company in Cape Town.
MyCiti stands out as the city’s most secure and dependable mode of transportation. At every station, there are surveillance cameras in place to ensure passenger safety. The buses adhere diligently to their schedules, and in case of any disruptions, real-time updates on your bus’s status are readily available. Moreover, the fares are both reasonable and affordable. Notably, MyCiti offers extensive coverage, making it an ideal choice for tourists looking to explore the city, including transportation from the CT airport to the city center.
For a one-way trip from the airport to the city, the fare is approximately 90 ZAR ($4.70). To utilize this system, you’ll need to obtain the “myconnect card,” which costs 35 ZAR ($1.83). You can load this card with the necessary funds for the duration of your stay at any bus station or participating retailers, simplifying your travel experience. Comprehensive information is available on their website, or you can opt to download their app or seek assistance from a staff member at the bus station.
Golden Arrow buses, on the other hand, are operated by a local private company. They offer one of the most budget-friendly transportation options, making them a popular choice among daily commuters. However, these buses tend to be quite crowded, especially during peak hours when people are heading to work or school. Their website provides valuable resources for checking schedules and planning your routes.
It’s worth noting that safety can be a concern when using Golden Arrow buses, as they serve areas that have been identified as crime hotspots, potentially making them targets for criminal activities. For tourists, I would personally advise against using them, but they remain a viable option for locals who are familiar with the system and routes.
Metrorail is responsible for operating trains in Cape Town and throughout the country. Unfortunately, the quality of their service has been steadily declining over the years. In the context of Cape Town, the train network is limited, serving only specific routes. Regrettably, many of these routes are susceptible to criminal activity, including incidents where trains have been set ablaze and track cables were stolen.
Consequently, safety is a significant concern for passengers. Given these circumstances, my recommendation would be to bypass the train experience altogether.
Is Uber Eats in South Africa?
Yes, Uber Eats is available in South Africa. They’re currently delivering food in seven major towns across the county; Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Polokwane, and Bloemfontein. They recently introduced grocery delivery as well, whereas before they used to deliver from restaurants only.
There are also alternatives to Uber Eats that I would recommend using during your stay here in South Africa.
Here are the alternatives to Uber Eats in South Africa:
- Mr D Food (formerly called Mr Delivery) is great because they offer pretty much the same restaurants as Uber Eats and in fact, started doing groceries before Uber did and they still dominate in the grocery delivery department since they do the big chain supermarkets whereas Uber Eats does the smaller shops.
- Bolt Food is also a good alternative to the other two. They don’t have as many restaurants and though they do groceries they also don’t have as big a selection as Mr D Food.
Thola is a research psychologist who left the field in 2019 and has been writing professionally for various magazines including her own blog ZuluSingleandFab since then. She also writes as a ghostwriter for various clients and has published 5 books to date. Her love of writing started during the COVID-19 lockdowns when she created her website to share her travel stories and her health and fitness journey. A gym enthusiast and lover of healthy food, she published a book, “Fit and Fabolous at Fifty” on Amazon Kindle in 2020 and is currently in the process of writing her second book about her life experiences from leaving a powerful corporate job to working as a freelance writer.