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Bolt Go aims to be cheapest ride-hailing in SA

The low-cost service says it wants to lower the barriers to entry into South African ride-hailing sector even further



Ride-hailing platform Bolt has launched a new low-cost category called Bolt Go, aiming to be the cheapest ride-hailing service in South Africa, with fares approximately 20% less than regular Bolt rides.

The addition of the new low-cost category, says Bolt, will significantly lower the barriers to entry into the South African ride-hailing industry “by empowering owners and drivers of hatchback cars to access the Bolt platform and earn an income, for the first time”.

“Smaller hatchback cars are less expensive to purchase, have lower maintenance costs, and are more fuel-efficient to operate than Bolt’s regular larger sedan cars,” says Gareth Taylor, Bolt country manager for South Africa. “These lower operational costs also enable Bolt Go fares to be significantly more affordable.”

The new more affordable service has been trialled successfully in the Eastern Cape cities of East London and Port Elizabeth, and is now being rolled out to all 35 cities and towns across South Africa where Bolt is active.

Bolt has indicated that the service will initially be introduced to secondary provincial cities and towns, and then in the large urban areas of Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban. Time and kilometre-based rates vary between locations but will always cost approximately 20% less than Bolt’s standard sedan category.

“Because Bolt Go has been designed for hatchback drivers, the service is not ideal for trips with lots of luggage – for example to the airport ahead of a big holiday – but it’s perfect for people wanting to quickly, safely and affordably get to work, the shops or to family – all dependent on the COVID-19 regulations at any time,” says Taylor.

All trips in the Bolt Go category will include Bolt’s existing Trip Protection – a no-cost, value-added insurance product that covers all passengers and drivers across all car categories in the case of an accident or unexpected incident.

The Bolt Go category is open to standard hatchback cars in good condition with low mileage, that pass a 45-point safety inspection and that seat at least four passengers in addition to the driver. Bolt anticipates that popular models will include the likes of Volkswagen Polo Vivo, Datsun Go and Toyota Etios.

The new category gives consumers an additional choice, along with the original Bolt sedan category, Isolate, Premium, XL and Van.

Hatchback cars may only operate in the Bolt Go category. However, Bolt has allowed drivers of its regular larger sedan cars, who may be experiencing a quiet period, to opt in and out on an ad-hoc basis to Bolt Go to boost earnings and maximise their earning potential.

Taylor argues that transportation services remain critical to the functioning of the economy and, as a significant stakeholder in the transportation sector, ride-hailing must adapt and transform in times of crisis.

“Our focus is on the thousands of South African drivers who rely on Bolt to connect them with passengers and earn a steady income – and enabling them to continue to earn that income to care for their families and loved ones.”

Bolt drivers across all categories, including Bolt Go, have to have aProfessional Driving Permit and pass a criminal background check before they join the platform, and adhere to strict COVID-19 safety protocols during all trips.