Uber officially launches in Colombo

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Since its arrival in Colombo, Uber has been in a testing phase to learn the basics of operating in Colombo. This testing phase has now come to an end. Today Uber has built a strong fleet of Sedans and is now officially here in Sri Lanka for the long-run.

When Uber came to Colombo it brought it’s budget UberX cabs to us. With the official launch, we haven’t seen an increase in offerings. Speaking at the official launch event, Bhavik Rathod, Regional General Manager, Indian Subcontinent, Uber said they might increase its offerings if they see the need and demand for these options.

From L-R: Bhavik Rathod, Regional General Manager, Indian Subcontinent, Uber; Karthik Balachandrarajan, Operations and Logistics Manager - Colombo, Uber; Nuzreth Jalaldeen, Marketing Manager - Colombo, Uber; Varun Mundkur, Senior Launcher, Uber; Karun Arya, Communications Lead - South Asia & India, Uber (Photo credits: Uber)
From L-R: Bhavik Rathod, Regional General Manager, Indian Subcontinent, Uber; Karthik Balachandrarajan, Operations and Logistics Manager – Colombo, Uber; Nuzreth Jalaldeen, Marketing Manager – Colombo, Uber; Varun Mundkur, Senior Launcher, Uber; Karun Arya, Communications Lead – South Asia & India, Uber (Photo credits: Uber)

Speaking at the launch event, Varun Mundkur – Senior Launcher at Uber said that demand for Uber is rapidly growing as both residents and increasing tourists in Colombo have been taking their first Uber ride. For Uber, every city they’ve entered has seen hyper growth with its usage increasing massively every 6 months and each new city has outperformed the last. Both Varun and Bhavik told us that they expect the Colombo to perform similarly.

Needless to say, Colombo has not been without challenges for Uber. Initially, the challenge was for accurate and short ETA’s, which is common in all cities Uber enters. With the conclusion of the testing phase, Uber now has enough data to put that issue at ease.

Speaking with the Uber team, we learned that, another unique challenge in Colombo was with drivers.To be more specific, the challenge was in training drivers to pick up passengers by following the map instead of calling the passenger. Making a cultural shift with drivers hasn’t been easy, but according to Uber, they are seeing strong progress. 

Another unique challenge in Colombo for Uber has been the traffic on rainy days. As we all know, traffic slows down to a snails pace when it rains. For Uber, this presents a problem for their ETA’s and so far is an issue unique to Colombo. According to the Uber team, as they collect more data in the coming months, it’s likely that this problem will be solved. 

Now one interesting thing about Uber that’s put them on the map is the promotions it offers. From free rides to ice cream to adorable kittens, Uber is well known for crazy and fun promotions across the world. Quite recently, it was announced that Uber would be bringing its uberCHOPPER promotion to Colombo. However, the price and many details remained a mystery until now.

If you take 2 Uber rides before Saturday, December 12, 2015, 11:59 pm you will then unlock the UberCHOPPER option on your app. Once you unlock it, you can request an UberCHOPPER and upon confirmation, a Uber cab will take you to the helipad at Water’s Edge. From Water’s Edge, you get a 15-minute helicopter tour of Colombo which also ends at Water’s Edge.

So how much does an UberCHOPPER cost in Colombo? According to Uber, the total fare for two persons is Rs. 5,000 including the trip to the helipad, refreshments and the tour ride. It should be noted that security measures require you show a National Identity Card or a valid Passport before your chopper ride

We’ve yet to try out UberCHOPPER, but it looks like a great deal to mark Uber’s official launch in Colombo. Hopefully, we’ll get our hands in an UberCHOPPER once they’re available. For now, we’d like to congratulate Uber on officially launching in Colombo and making car taxi’s 10% cheaper. Hopefully in the near future, we’ll see Uber doing the same for trishaws.

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