Uber in Russia launched late 2013. The company began by attracting the attention of individuals who would enjoy the opportunity of driving other people to make money. The ridesharing behemoth was said to have signed up about 3,000 drivers in the first one and a half year of its operation. As Uber in Russia grew, authorities in the country’s capital city- Moscow where Uber is solely operating in, began to reel the company in on the need to follow dully set regulations for taxi operators.
Uber, as usual battled it out with Moscow authorities through 2014 and 2015 until the Moscow Department of Transport threatened to ban the company from the city. Uber got the official go-ahead after it submitted to the city’s regulations in March 2016. The regulations included that only drivers with DoT licensed vehicles can pick up passengers. Also, Uber must be willing to share the trip details with the authorities of the Russian capital. Uber has the UberX, UberSELECT and UberBLACK options available in Moscow city.
Competitors and People Preference
Uber in Russia has one major competitor- Yandex Taxi. Russia’s search engine giant Yandex, launched a taxi arm in 2011 called Yandex Taxi. Yandex Taxi currently dominates the Russian market with about 15,000 taxis signed up on its platform in 2015. Uber currently has about 3,000 vehicles signed up under its platform. Hopefully in time, Uber in Russia will catch up with this fierce rival in a race to dominate Russia. While Yandex taxi is available in some other cities of Russia, Uber is only available in Moscow.
In a conversation with a couple of users in Moscow who declined to have their names mentioned, they revealed to me that they mostly used Yandex because it has a shorter wait period. Apparently, the wait period for Yandex taxi was between 3 – 10 minutes,while they have to wait between 3 – 20 minutes for an Uber driver to arrive. However, Uber is clearly the cheapest car ride option in Russia with even classier rides. Others praised the different Uber services (UberX, BLACK and SELECT) available in Russia as it gives passengers options to choose from depending on the purpose of the ride.
The rideshare users interviewed seem to enjoy the best of both worlds by using the Yandex Taxi and Uber apps simultaneously. Sometimes, Uber’s longer wait period was inconsequential since the ride is cheaper and classier. However, the conclusion reached was that Yandex Taxi was the preferred option.
Uber has not been very keen on its expansion in the Russian market. It’s hard to tell if it intends to make an entry into other Russian cities. Uber’s longer wait period could be justified by the dearth of Uber drivers available in Moscow city.
Finally, I must point out that Moscow is not an easy ground for companies offering online taxi services. Dmitri Izmailov, general manager of Uber in Russia explained in a statement that: “Moscow has one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world and suffers from chronic congestion as a result… According to a study by TomTom, bad traffic means that Muscovites spend twice as long as they should in their cars. And with Russia set to become Europe’s largest car market by 2020, this issue will only get worse over time.”
However, this problem will in time to come, shed more light on the need for Muscovites to embrace ride sharing. A service like Uber’s grows exponentially when the people realize they could actually help reduce cars on the road and ease traffic by simply taking a ride in an Uber.
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