Autumn is here, and with it there seems to be a rise in the tensions between metered taxis and newer innovations like ride sharing apps, Uber and the like.
It’s a sad situation, as GoMetro largely believes its unnecessary. GoMetro CEO Justin Coetzee has partnered with and been open with taxi drivers, taxi ranks and bosses for our previous innovations in areas like Rustenburg and Tyger Valley, as there’s more than enough mobility to go around for everyone, and we are proud of the fact that to date no violence has been experienced by GoMetro users.
However, that’s not the case for everyone else. A Taxify driver has died, a taxi passenger in Durban has died and violence rages on in areas like Pretoria and Mthatha. No wonder Japan wants to go the route of A.I. taxis in Tokyo!
Here at GoMetro, we absolutely condemn the use of violence in any capacity in the streets. People should be free to catch whichever ride they want to and have the right to earn a living in any public transportation role – be it at a taxi rank, train station or on an app.
Until we can all learn to get along, we advise the following safety precautions:
Perhaps the simplest and most effective tip is this: don’t zone out, but be aware of your surroundings. In just about any violent situation, there are signs beforehand: someone walking up to the vehicle menacingly, a mob forming, a suspiciously deserted street. While it may be tempting to put on your music and tune out the world while commuting, it’s safer not to.
Choose where you sit
When ride sharing, make sure you’re sitting close to an exit. It may seem counterintuitive, as that’s where the bad guys can get in, but that’s where you can get out too. In most of the situations that have been reported on, the driver’s door and driver’s side is the one in the most danger, so try to sit on the opposite side. Those flying solo in a transport situation, such as in an Uber, use the back instead of the front so that you can use whichever door you need to if a hasty exit is required.
Know that there is help, and where to get it
Save a number such as the flying squad’s to speed dial on your phone, so that just the push of one button can send someone to help. If you live in areas like Mthatha where there is ongoing violence reported, there have been task teams set up in some of those areas. Contact your local police station to find out the numbers of these people. If you are an Uber user, the app also has a dedicated Incident Response Team that you can summon in-app.
Drivers, up the safety ante
If you are a driver for someone like Uber, getting some extra safety education can literally save lives – yours and your passengers’. Uber now has safety sessions in all their African ‘Greenlight Hubs’ which drivers can attend to stock up on safety tips. Apart from this, advanced driver training courses are available in almost every town in SA. Go educate yourself, and also make sure not to idle or park in isolated, dark areas or anywhere taxi violence has been reported.
What are your safety hacks, GoMetropolitans? Be aware, stay safe…