Looking to go to that big concert or rugby game, but not keen to drive home after a drink or two, or to travel at night?
Newly launched mobility service Zeelo hopes to provide a solution to these conundrums, as well as some other transport questions prevalent in South Africa.
Zeelo provides shared transportation services across South Africa, in vehicles from seven-seater shuttles right through to 60-seater
buses, explains Zeelo South Africa (SA) GM Andrew Robarts.
“We would always use luxury vehicles for our services, but can offer semi-lux and standard vehicles, if requested.”
Zeelo, founded in 2017, is based in the UK, with South Africa its first overseas market launch.
In fact, Zeelo actually originated in South Africa as The Rugga Bus, as a service transporting Sharks fans to and from Kings Park, in Durban, on match days.
The Rugga Bus was founded and managed by two Durban locals, Robarts and James Champion, before news of the idea spread to London, where Zeelo co-founders, Sam Ryan and Barney Williams, became interested in the idea.
The teams struck a deal and The Rugga Bus was officially transformed into Zeelo South Africa.
Zeelo is looking to grow rapidly in South Africa, says Robarts.
The company is creating partnerships with major employers who want to offer sustainable alternatives to their employees to travel to work, while also retaining its focus on major sporting and entertainment events.
The first corporate commute offering kicked off in July, with Zeelo providing daily shuttles for employees working in three corporate offices in Sandton from the Sandton Gautrain Station.
“We’ve seen incredible growth in such a short amount of time and it shows that South Africans across the country need a service like ours,” states Robarts.
“South Africa is the perfect market for us,” adds Zeelo CEO Sam Ryan.
“Our aim is to provide safe, convenient and affordable shared transport options to those who are completely reliant on their car.
“The significant gaps in public transport provision in South Africa mean increasing congestion, pollution and car parking challenges, causing frustration for travellers and headaches for cities and companies. We see a huge opportunity to provide South Africa with the transport solution it deserves.”
In South Africa, Zeelo is available online through a desktop and mobile website.
A mobile app has been developed, but is only available in the UK at this stage. It should be rolled out to South Africa in the next three to six months.
Zeelo has raised £4.25-million to fuel its expansion overseas, with focus on the commuting business.
The South Africa Zeelo head office is based in Durban, but the business is operational nationwide, and primarily focused on Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban, at this stage.
To date Zeelo SA has more than 4 700 registered users and has sold more than 18 000 seats.
Zeelo offers three types of services.
ZeeloCOMMUTE provides transport solutions for employees to and from work. Passengers would book a seat on the service via the Zeelo website.
“This may be partially or fully subsidised by a company if we are offering the service specifically for them,” explains Robarts.
ZeeloEVENTS offers transport solutions to and from major events.
“We would partner with the event and set up a booking page on the Zeelo website for this event. Passengers would then book their seats via the website,” notes Robarts.
ZeeloPRIVATE provides transport solutions for private groups.
People can request a private vehicle (ranging from seven to 60 seats) to get them from A to B.
This could be for a holiday, airport transfer, party bus, and so forth.
“Here there is the option for one passenger to pay for the whole vehicle, or to split the cost of the journey between passengers by sharing the payment link with everyone,” explains Robarts.
“For our events and commuting services, people can book a seat on a vehicle with other fans/employees travelling to the same stadium/offices,” he adds.
“For private hire, people can book a vehicle for their personal use, which will be limited to their group.”
In South Africa, Zeelo integrates with a number of local operators who supply the vehicles used to transport passengers.
“We only use professional vehicle operators whose drivers have the required training and experience to manage the journeys on the day,” says Robarts.
The company’s online booking platform allows for live vehicle tracking and 24/7 customer support.
Robarts says Zeelo has an operations team who look at the finer details surrounding all journeys to ensure the timings and logistics are all on point, so that fans and employees are on time for their event or the start of work.
“We have a customer support team that follows each live journey to ensure the vehicles don't get lost and are picking up and dropping off at the correct locations. They are also standing by to assist any passengers who may be lost or to answer any general queries about the service.
“We would also hire security guards for larger events to ensure the drop off area at the event is secure.”
Open services to events, where anyone can book a seat on the service, leave from a central location, such as a shopping mall.
The Zeelo private service can pick passengers up from their home address.
Set commuting services for corporates also generally leave from central points (such as a Gautrain station), but if a corporate would like to run a service picking employees up from their homes, Zeelo would be able to do so, notes Robarts.
“We always identify pickup points that have ample parking, such as shopping malls or public transport spots,” he adds.
“For certain events, we include the cost of the parking ticket in the price of the journey.
“For other events, however, we would encourage passengers to use last mile services (Uber, Taxify and so forth) to get to and from the pickup points in order to reduce the risk of drinking and driving.
“We have partnered with these last mile companies to provide our passengers with promo codes for discounts on their services.”
Robarts says Zeelo pricing varies depending on the distance from the pickup point to the event, number of hours the event runs for and nature of the event.
“For events in and around each city we would generally charge around R150 for a return journey.
“For events that are further afield, we would charge more. For example we are charging R350 return for trips from Johannesburg to Sun City for the Nedbank Golf Challenge.”