Cost Surges, Uber Drivers in Sao Paolo Brazil to Launch Rival App

The Uber driver’s cell phone gave a signal to pick up passengers. But after checking the mileage, he refused the order. With gasoline prices soaring in Brazil, “I’m becoming more and more calculating when towing,” says the driver.

Soaring inflation has made it difficult for many Brazilians to make a living. This is especially true for the drivers of ride-sharing applications.

Gasoline prices increased nearly 50 percent last year, while the apps they rely on claim a sizable share of the remaining revenue.

But now, drivers in Sao Paolo – a city of 12 million people – are planning to launch a ride-sharing app of their own, going head-to-head with Uber, the industry giant, on a platform they say offers drivers more lucrative deals.

“With petrol so expensive, I have to do a quick count before taking my order to see if the ride is worth it, so I don’t end up giving the customer a free ride,” said Valmir, a 56-year-old Uber driver who asked not to be named.

“I work 12, 13, sometimes 14 hours a day to earn the same income as before,” about 250 to 300 reais (Rp. 690 thousand – Rp. 830 thousand) of gross income a day, he said.

The issue prompted a 150,000-member app driver association to compile and develop their own mobile app, with the support of the Sao Paolo Association of App Drivers and Delivery Workers (AMMASP).

The app is called Me Busca, which means “pick me up.”

“We want to offer drivers conditions that ride-sharing companies don’t provide, namely better pay, better safety guarantees and better quality of work,” AmmaSP president Eduardo Lima told reporters. AFP.

Its creators say Me Busca offers the same price as its American rival Uber and 99, which is owned by Chinese company Didi.

The app will launch next March with thousands of drivers already registered. [rd/rs]