Coronavirus Outbreak Is Changing The Way Uber and Lyft Do Business

The global coronavirus pandemic continues to significantly affect every single industry. Earlier this week, rideshare giants Uber and Lyft suspended their carpooling service options in response to federal and local governments’ “social distancing” guidelines.

UberPool and Lyft shared-ride services match up several Uber or Lyft riders with other rides based on a complicated geography and routing algorithm. During a pandemic, these services would mean putting strangers in close proximity to each other before dropping them at various locations across a city. Uber indicated that the move was an attempt to help “flatten the curve” of new cases of the virus being spread through the community.

Uber and Lyft limit rides to one passenger to reduce the spread of Coronavirus

Recognizing the inherent dangers of carpooling service during a pandemic, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order banning all carpool trips and restricting all ride-hail trips to one rider (with certain family member exceptions). As the coronavirus situation rapidly develops, I would expect that New York City will not be the only city banning these carpooling rides.

The suspension of carpooling rides is not the only change that Uber and Lyft have made in response to COVID-19. Uber has announced that it is considering temporarily suspending the accounts of riders or drivers that “have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19.” Lyft has announced a similar directive. It is unclear how either ride-hailing company would obtain information regarding whether a driver or rider has contracted or been exposed to the virus.

Uber now relying on UberEATS to stay afloat

Both Uber and Lyft have seen a massive decline in ride volume due to the nationwide self-quarantining efforts. In cities particularly hard hit by the virus, ride volume is down 60-70%.

To survive the financial fallout from the outbreak, Uber has been leaning heavily on its food delivery service – UberEATS. For millions of Americans in self-quarantine or under “shelter in place” directives, UberEATS has been a welcome way to enjoy restaurant-quality food from local establishments.

To help these local restaurants, Uber has waived all delivery fees. One option UberEATS offers for those concerned about the social interaction involved in food delivery is “contactless deliveries” in which drivers leave your food at a doorstep or in an entryway and immediately notify you to pick up your food.

As the coronavirus outbreak response continues to change every day, we will try to keep you updated on how it affects these ride-hail companies and the safety of our clients that utilize these companies every day.

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