Uber took Salvador, Brazil by storm in 2016.
And where economic success is found, competitors are sure to follow. Just as we saw in the US when Uber and Lyft came to town, when Uber arrived in Salvador the taxis largely got their act together — finally providing usable apps and cleaner taxis. The same has happened in Salvador. And, Brazil as a whole has embraced ride-sharing, providing local options in addition to global giant Uber.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you are familiar with Uber (iOS, Android). Due to its low, low prices, it’s a very popular option in Salvador and there are tens of thousands of licensed Uber drivers in the city. For the past few years Salvador has only had the basic, UberX service, but in 2019 we got Uber Select. With Uber Select we get nicer cars (and higher fares to go with it), but there is still no UberBlack in Salvador.
If you have been under that rock and Uber is new to you, you can read my thoughts on their Salvador service here.
99 (iOS, Android) is an interesting service that is gaining quite a bit of traction in Salvador. It’s what you would get if a taxi app and Uber had a child — it can be used to hail either their ride-share service or a taxi.
99 has three service levels in Salvador: Pop, 99Taxi, and Regular Taxi. There is also 99Top, their black car service, but that is not currently available in Salvador.
Classes of Service
99 Pop is similar to UberX. To drive with 99, as with Uber, you do have to have to be licensed as being someone who accepts fares. In Brazil, that means you have to undergo a physical and medical exam, pay a fee, and pay your taxes.
99 Taxi is exactly what the name implies — it’s a means of hailing a taxi. When you hail a 99 Taxi, you’ll get a reduced rate over grabbing a driver from a local taxi stand. Drivers can decide if they want to make themselves available for the 99 fare, as it is a discount from a regular fare. That means there are often fewer cars available at the 99 level versus the regular taxi level.
This is a full-fare taxi, but it will come to you and you get more payment options. In my experience, your an expect to pay 10-20% more with a regular taxi compared to the 99 Taxi.
Choosing a Fare Service Level
It works just like Uber. Enter your origin and destination, and then you are presented with estimated fares and wait times for each class of service. Confirm your fare service level, and a car is dispatched to you.
Sign Up and Payment
After you download the 99 app (iOS, Android), you’ll need to enter your phone number and get a verification code (cell service required). Once your number has been verified, complete your registration, and you’re good to go. If you are worried about the language, don’t be — the app (and verification code message) comes in both English and Portuguese.
Payment options are cash, POS (point of service) credit/debit card, credit card number saved in-app, or PayPal.
Cabify / Easy Taxi
Cabify (iOS, Android) and Easy Taxi (iOS, Android) have recently joined forces and are both taxi-hailing applications. There is a base service as well as discount levels of 20-30%. Choosing your fare level works the same as 99, enter your origin and destination and your fare estimates will provide a variety of options based upon the drivers currently on the street.
As with all of the other ride-hailing apps, to get started you will need to enter your phone number and have cell service to accept a verification code. Once you have done that, you complete your registration and you are good to go.
Both Cabify and Easy Taxi have English and Portuguese language versions. And as with all of the other Salvador ride-hailing services, you have the option of storing a credit card for cashless payment or choosing to pay in cash at the end of the ride.
ItMOV (iOS Brazil store, Android) launched with a huge splash during Carnaval 2019. They were a major sponsor of the event, with their logo plastered on billboards, trio elétricos, and signage throughout the city.
I’m excited about the potential of this app because the company is from Salvador. It is also focused on safety and security, which is always a concern here. Unfortunately, however, the rider app is not available in the US iTunes Store so I cannot review it. The driver app is currently in the US Store, so I’m hoping that is something that is resolved soon, as I’d like to support this home-grown business.