India, as a whole, is being encouraged to take up social distancing in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak to slow down its spread. The biggest ride-hailing giants operating in India Ola and Uber are now pitching in to do their bit to encourage people to do the same.
On Friday evening, both the ride-hailing platforms Ola and Uber have reportedly decided to temporarily suspend the option of opting for shared rides for their users in an effort to do their part when it comes to curbing the spread of coronavirus faster.
Shared rides are a popular option for daily commuters as they are generally priced lower than that of standalone rides. This option enables commuters to ride along with other commuters who are travelling in the same direction.
Ola which is a ride-hailing platform of Indian-origin operates in several other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. but offers the option of ‘Ola Share’ only to our country. In a statement on Friday evening, a company spokesperson has mentioned that their move to temporarily disable the option of ‘Ola Share’ category comes as a measure to curb the highly infectious outbreak of Covid-19.
The spokesperson of Ola further added that for the company it is very important their driver-partners are healthy and safe. He also informed that Ola has taken several steps to ensure optimal hygiene levels are being maintained in the vehicles on their app’s platform and that the temporary suspension of their shared rides is supposed to encourage people to keep up their efforts of social distancing even when it comes to commuting for essential purposes.
The firm said that their other ride-hailing offerings such as the Micro, Mini, Prime, Rental and Outstation will remain operational and that in the case of any concerns which may arise in regards to driver-partners and customers respectively, there’s 24/7 availability of their Partner Care teams and Safety Response Teams. They have encouraged everyone to ‘proactively report any instance that may be symptomatic’ so that the company can take the appropriate and immediate actions necessary.
A source who is familiar to these developments has suggested that the temporary suspension would remain intact until the need of social distancing is waived off in New Delhi and social gathering is considered safe once again.
Uber India, which rivals Ola in India, has also taken the same action and disabled their Uber Pool offering. It was reportedly mentioned by an Uber spokesperson that they are determined when it comes to reducing or containing the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak and therefore as a safety measure they have decided to suspend their Uber Pool services as of right now.
The company spokesperson further added that the company advises people to refrain from any kind of non-essential commute to stay safe.
Shared Rides: Quite A Popular Choice
This move by the ride-hailing giants comes after similar restrictions were put in place by Uber and Lyft in the United States.
Both Ola and Uber are indulged in a cutthroat competition to conquer the India’s app-based ride-booking market. While Uber has claimed that the company accounts for 50% of the market by serving customers in 58 cities., Ola claims that its network coverage is beyond 250 cities.
The temporary shutdown of the sharing caps by both Ola and Uber will have a significant impact on their customers, especially the ones who don’t have deep pockets and largely depends on the shared cab option. Shared Rides accounts for nearly 15% of the total daily rides booked by Ola and Uber.
The Impact of The Covid-19 On Transportation
As the number of Covid-19 cases climbed to 223 on Friday from 173 the day before and the death toll rose to five, India has suspended international flights and is now seeking to curb public transport and gatherings of people as well in order to slow down and curb the spread of this deadly outbreak. The government has also reportedly urged and advised that children below 10 and seniors above 65 stay indoors.