Uber Officially Launches in Jakarta Today

Aulia Masna - 13 August 2014

Smartphone-based private car hire service Uber is officially launching in Jakarta today. The company has actually been in operating in the city since early June, giving residents a taste of what the company is offering. Over the past two months it's been working on building up its inventory of cars and drivers through partnerships with car rental companies and gauging the market demand, pattern, not to mention reception in Indonesia's capital. For the time being, the service is available in very limited capacity as pick ups are concentrated around the Sudirman CBD area.

For those still unfamiliar or unclear with what Uber does, the company can be considered as an alternative taxi service but it doesn't actually own or operate the cars directly and the drivers don't work for the company. Uber drivers in Jakarta work for and are paid by the partner rental companies. Uber's role is to pair riders with those drivers and help people get to their destinations safely and in style. Riders also require a credit card as all payments are processed without cash.

Although Uber started with fewer than 15 cars when it began its Jakarta operation, right now it boasts more than 50 and the company is continuously working on adding more to allow greater coverage and accommodate more riders. Its expansion is due to its increasing partnerships with fleet rental companies that are more familiar to the corporate sector which regularly hires cars for long term purposes.

While in other cities Uber operates a number of different categories of car services, in Jakarta there is currently only one category, Uber, and the current fleet includes a range of cars from older Hyundai Sonatas that need a lot of TLC to the newer S Class Mercedes Benz, as well as the gigantic eight seater Toyota Alphard. Perhaps it's also worth mentioning that the cars are on black plates rather than on the yellow plates designated for public transport vehicles, so riders and drivers need to pay attention to Jakarta's 3 in 1 service times and areas.

As for the rates, it's more comparable to the standard Blue Bird Group taxi rate as opposed to the premium Silver Bird or Tiara Express. Its minimum of Rp 30,000 per ride is also lower than the minimum charge for booking a Blue Bird cab.

There have been controversies surrounding Uber in various cities around the world as it has operations in over 130 of them but in Indonesia it has yet to have met vocal or public opposition from the local taxi services, the regulatory bodies, nor from any branch of the government.

As most of the attention since May have been focused almost entirely on the country's presidential election and the ongoing constitutional court challenge to the election, perhaps the company inadvertently picked the right time to be in Jakarta allowing it to operate relatively under the radar. After all, there had been very few coverage on the local media about the company, although that may well change after today's launch.

Uber's mobile apps are available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

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