Uber.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Denis CERIĆ/ lsd

Car-sharing service Uber launched in Lahore on Thursday, with a few key modifications for the market.

Users will be able to summon a driver and car by phoning in, not just by using an app, and drivers will accept cash, not just card payment.

With less than a third of mobile users having smartphones, and a significant share of the population not functionally literate, the move intends to make the service available to as many of the city's 10 million people as possible.

Around 200 Uber cars have been deployed, and up to 5,000 are planned, according to Naheem Malik, of the Pubjab Information Technology Board, which is working in partnership with US-based Uber.

The import of cars is restricted and heavily taxed in the country, making ownership a rarity. Most people use overfilled, elderly public buses, where inadequate service provokes regular demonstrations, especially in the large cities.

Uber has said it is hoping to be popular in particular with women, who complain that men do not give up the reserved seats on public transport and harass them.

The car-sharing service says it has been training drivers in courtesy to women and has been screening its candidates, Malik said.

Uber will charge 13.7 rupees per kilometre, around 10 cents. Some media reports said all rides would be free during an introductory marketing period until Sunday.

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