Minibus-taxi industry goes high-tech
The South African minibus-taxi industry is heading into a new era with the launch this week of the AftaRobot transport-management technology platform.
Designed to run on a mobile device, AftaRobot benefits users from the Johannesburg Southern Suburbs Taxi Association, while improving operational efficiency for taxi drivers and associations.
Obakeng (Obby) Morapeli Matlhoko, the visionary behind AftaRobot, says: “Commuters will be able to use the app to book a taxi in advance – whereas, in the past, due to unreliable taxi schedules, they would have had to get up bright and early and possibly compromise their safely while waiting for a taxi to pass by.
“Taxi drivers will also benefit. As a load and route-based service, commuter behaviour and routes will now become clear, resulting in more efficient operations.”
The introduction of the app will address some of the challenges that have plagued South Africa’s minibus taxi industry.
From the perspective of taxi owners, there is a lack of operational visibility and control of the whereabouts of their vehicles once they leave the property or taxi rank, as well as a number of other inefficiencies, which lead to duplicated efforts in driving routes, ultimately resulting in a loss of potential income.
For drivers, finding passengers will be a lot easier, too.
Commuters will also benefit, as, traditionally, they have been unable to plan their journeys safely, due to unreliable taxi schedules, pick-up locations, underrepresented route planning, and uncertainty regarding availability of minibus taxis.
As a result, riders have been forced to reorganise their life around public transport, losing precious time and energy.
Commuters have also been unable to communicate directly with the industry to provide feedback on things like the habits of drivers, timeliness and availability of a ride to their specific location.
In the next two years, Matlhoko and his team aim to implement AftaRobot among more than 10 000 vehicles, 4 000 owners, and 50 000 commuters.
“We have been training and empowering minibus-taxi drivers, owners, queue marshals and minibus-taxi association staff to use mobile devices to gather route activity and performance, in order to enable commuters to receive route information, estimated time of vehicle arrival and trip time more efficiently than ever before,” he concludes.