This is not a huge surprise as they announced that this was their intention last summer. What is more interesting, is why they chose to join forces and what will be the result for the passengers.
The Moskva-24 new service reported yesterday that the deal had been completed. I also received an e-mail as a Uber client, stating that future Uber rides in Moscow would be under the combined company.
What I found fascinating in the Moskva-24 report was that Yandex would control 59% of the shares of the new company and the general director of the company will be Tigran Hudaverdyan, who previously led Yandex Taxi.
So, at least on the surface this appears to be a situation where Uber saw the benefit of joining a local entity, rather than continuing to compete. Yandex is certainly a powerhouse in Russia, the only thing I can think to compare it to is Google in America- although Yandex may provide more services for Russia than Google does for America.
And the truth is that Uber drivers and Yandex Taxi drivers were often the exact same drivers, driving the exact same cars before this deal took place. So, we will now see what happens to the pricing now that they are not in competition. Prices up until now have been quite low- I was able to catch a ride through my neighborhood for under a dollar last summer, and I have caught rides in the middle of the night from the airport to my home for around $14.
We will also see if Yandex Taxi continues its fixed rate policy that it introduced last summer. This was a double-edged sword in my opinion: it was very nice to know exactly what you would pay before getting into the car, but the drivers would at times seem to become agitated when getting stuck in traffic.
Yandex Taxi is very similar to Uber except the fact that the drivers usually do not own their cars – they rent them. And the work for the driver is not a “side hustle”, it is very much a full time job. Many of the drivers are “work immigrants” and come from around Russia and neighboring countries.
I have found the service to be reliable, but I also frequently see the question about safety and reliability in Russia expat forums. My opinion is that if you are in Russia long-term and on a budget, Yandex Taxi is a great service. However, if you are coming short-term, it is best to choose a “car and driver service” from a private company with an English speaking driver or English speaking dispatcher. This is a more expensive option, but will save you time (and nerves) if you have a miscommunication or disagreement with your driver.
I am personally a fan of Yandex Taxi. Since I usually use public transport around town, it is a great service to have when I do need a car and has saved our family from needing a second car.
And now we will see what effect this merger has on the prices and quality of service. And beyond that, Yandex is starting to talk about its new carsharing service- so we will see if that starts to put some of its own taxi drivers out of business.