Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have grown rapidly in countries with a robust internet infrastructure. They haven’t done so well in others struggling with connectivity, like Cuba. As CGTN’s Luis Chirino reports, some innovative app makers are finding a way.
Internet connectivity has come slowly to Cuba but recent years have seen significant growth in WiFi hotspots, cyber cafes, and home DSL connections. And with the launch of mobile data service last December, enterprising young Cubans saw further opportunity.
A university teacher, a designer, and an I.T. programmer came together to create a ride-sharing app adapted to Cuban conditions.
“We try to reproduce with this app the everyday dynamics about calling a taxi, negotiating trip price, you know, Claudia Cuevas, the app’s creator said. “This was what we wanted to do with Sube.”
Cuevas said it didn’t take long for the service to catch on.
“For us the opening of mobile data services was all we needed to make the app operative and available to everyone, people began to download it,” she said. “In all, over 5000 passengers and more than 300 cab drivers have joined in.”
Sube’s co-creator Darien Gonzalez said their app also serves a higher purpose.
“This is an app with a social impact,” Gonzalez said. “At the end of the day, our objective is to help the local transportation of people.”
Only drivers operating with a private workers license can join SUBE and all drivers must register their cars.
Havana is an overpopulated city with over two million inhabitants. For most people traveling around town, particularly in rush hour is quite an issue.
The new app helps cut down on everyday stress.
“Previously I had to go out on the street,” said Judith Gonzalez, a user who swears by the app. “Now I can spot a cab from home or any other place, also pick the car and negotiate the trip price, This app SUBE is safe and efficient, so I will keep using it.”
To hail a ride, you just need a cellphone with the Sube app – and it finds nearby drivers – with either a modern car or an old American classic like this one.
“This service means more work and more money,” Jose Casta, a Sube driver, said. “I can be available to anyone on the map and this increases my revenues while I offer a good service to the people.”
The new app benefits both taxi drivers and passengers, and even foreign visitors can download the app and access the service.
It’s an app that’s quickly found a following in this Cuban community – proving it can make a difference in people’s lives.