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Uber launches ride sharing service in Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT – Uber has launched its ride sharing service in Sri Lanka saying it was drawn by people already looking for the service, locals who had used it abroad and tourists.

Bavik Rathod, Uber’s regional general manager for the Indian sub continent, said the smart-phone app-based service makes transportation more efficient and was able to offer rides in and around the capital Colombo within an average time of five minutes.

“We do a better job of matching supply and demand,” he told a news conference. “What motivated us to come to Sri Lanka was that we have a lot of people in Colombo looking for Uber, probably those who had used it abroad. We tracked that.”

He said the response during trials had been “overwhelming” but declined to give the number of drivers who had signed up.

Karun Arya, Uber’s communications head for South Asia, said they were in talks with the government on the ride sharing service for which no regulations exist given its novel nature and that the response was conducive.

He said there had been no opposition to the Uber’s service unlike in other countries where taxi services had opposed it.

“We’re complementing existing transport options,” he told EconomyNext.com. “We’re talking to the government on its vision for transport in the future and the potential to create a new regulatory framework.”

An Uber fact sheet gave the minimum fare as 100 rupees with 50 rupees per kilometre and two rupees per minute.

The statement said Sri Lanka is ready for Uber, which connects volunteer drivers with those looking for rides through a free, GPS satellite-location enabled smart-phone.

About 20 percent of Sri Lankans have smart phones and there are a million credit card and 11 million debit card users in the island.





Uber ride payment is automatic and is through credit or debit cards users register with when they sign up.

Uber vets drivers and has a rating system for both drivers and riders that blocks those who behave badly and get poor reviews.

“Uber use can potentially reduce the number of cars on the road and decongest cities in a way,” said Varun Mundkur, Senior Launcher, Uber.

The service would be useful for taxi operators in the tourism industry as it offers them a chance to be entrepreneurs and work flexible hours, he added.

“If you don’t want to work, you just turn off the Uber app.” (Colombo/December 09 2015)

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