New SA-developed lift app hits the market

07 November 2019 - 08:20 By Phuti Mpyane
One of Lifti’s ground-breaking features is seeking out fellow travellers to share the fuel bill with. Picture: SUPPLIED
One of Lifti’s ground-breaking features is seeking out fellow travellers to share the fuel bill with. Picture: SUPPLIED

The local taxi e-hailing app wars have a new contender in Lifti. According to its developers this app is the answer for budget-conscious commuters who have been waiting for a remedy to long queues waiting for public transport.

Lifti is a phone app that offers a more affordable and convenient way to travel. As an example, a Lifti enquiry for service from our Parktown, Johannesburg offices to OR Tambo International is quoted R44.25. In comparison the cheapest Uber X trip demanded R242.

To find a ride on Lifti, passengers enter their desired pickup and drop-off locations. They then receive suggestions of possible matches travelling in the same direction at the same or similar times, and select who they would like to ride with.

Passengers can choose between once-off or recurring trips. They can also send a message with pickup instructions. Once passengers arrive safely at their destination, they pay the driver securely via the app and provide a rating. The driver can also rate passengers.

From a safety aspect, Lifti drivers and passengers are verified using their identity documents, and to add to peace of mind, the picture of the driver is also visible to would-be passengers to help identify them.

The app has partnered with Kia Motors to promote the benefits of shared mobility, launching the partnership in Transport Month.

“Kia is an automotive company that not only supports startups like Lifti, but also cares about how people move from point A to B,” says Lifti co-founder and owner Tshepo Seeletso. “They want to help people who may not have cars today to get to work without hassles, while they save money to become Kia customers in the future,” he adds.

“For Kia, this is for a bigger cause than profit,” says Lifti chief operations officer and co-founder Tshepo Rox Sikwane “The company wants to support the underserved segment of people who can benefit from this partnership between Kia and Lifti, helping commuters keep a bigger percentage of their salaries in their pockets and saving money on transport,” continued the founder.

The app has recently been honoured with the Smarter Mobility Africa Award for providing a mobility solution that will help alleviate some of the transport challenges commuters face.

I downloaded the app and tried it out. Registration is pretty straightforward. Apart from the usual questions the app seeks personal details such as vehicle registration, vehicle description and your ID number.

Sharing sensitive information like your ID number on a public domain will discourage many but Christo Valentyn, PR and Product Marketing Manager at Kia Motors SA, says: “The requirement of an ID number will understandably trigger concerns but we view this as an added element of safety. Being able to verify the identity of people offering or seeking lifts is a feature currently not offered by other taxi hailing apps and view this as a positive aspect,” he said.

Lifti also needs your photo to ease in identification. Once processed and now a bona fide Lifti participator, firing up the app gives you a choice of asking or offering a lift. You select and enter a suggested meeting point and the end destination.

Once all of that data is captured then the wait begins, waiting for an alert that someone has taken your lift offer.

Understandably, safety concerns remain a big hurdle with these apps that bring strangers together and, perhaps as a start up that’s still in its infancy the uptake is still low. According to Valentyn work is being carried out to market and further develop the app.

Lifti Pricing

R7.50   Base fare

0-20km — R2 per km

21-30km — R1.50 per km

31-45km — R1 per km

46-299km — R0.75 per km

300km+  — R0.55 per km