Uber Technologies is considering rolling out a new service in Nairobi, Kenya to help users book seats on minibuses if tests on the product in Egypt and Mexico prove successful.
Uber’s East Africa General Manager Loic Amado told Reuters they estimate that more than a third of Kenyans in Nairobi use the often crowded public service buses, known as matatus, as their main form of transport around the city.
“We want to be part of the transportation ecosystem in Nairobi and matatus are a big part of how people move around,” he said, adding the feature would be available on the Uber app.
The service that may be launched in Nairobi is being tested in Egypt’s capital Cairo and the Mexican city of Monterrey.
The Uber executive on Wednesday said once the service is proven in Nairobi, it could be expanded to Kenya’s neighbors, such as Uganda’s capital Kampala and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Amado noted that the idea would be to apply it to vehicles carrying up to 16 people.
He added that the new service would allow customers to track and trace the buses.
“It would help reduce idle time at the bus stop during slow hours,” said Jackson Onyinkwa, chairman of one of Nairobi’s matatu associations.
Uber, which launched in Kenya four years ago and now has 6,000 active drivers, is seeking an edge over rival operators such as Estonian ride-hailer Taxify and Little, set up by Nairobi-based Craft Silicon.