With social distancing emerging as the key to ward off coronavirus, several app-based shared mobility services have taken a hit as most of their regular customers are working from home or travelling in their private vehicles and avoiding shared rides.
Many operators admitted there’s a dip in ridership as citizens are preferring safer and solo riding options. A spokesperson of Bounce, an app-based rental scooter firm, said: “We have seen a 10-15% drop in ridership in the past few days. We are urging people to use Bounce only if necessary.”
Yulu Bikes, a micro-mobility firm, is also witnessing a decline in the number of takers. Amit Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Yulu Bikes, put the fall at 10%.
While Ola and Uber refused to comment on the dip in ridership, many of their driver partners admit there is a drastic reduction in the bookings, especially for shared options like Ola Share and Uber Pool. In fact, some passengers say rides have become cheaper in the absence of surge pricing. Carpooling firms are also bearing the brunt but Quick Ride refused to comment.
A survey conducted by MoveInSync, a corporate travel provider, between March 9 and 11, revealed there was 9% dip in cab usage by officegoers. However, the numbers may have increased by now.
A spokesperson of bike taxi service Rapido said: “Ridership has not dropped much as it didn’t serve too many white-collar workers. The platform is mostly used by blue-collar workers, who don’t have the luxury to work from home. Also, our business is a lot less concentrated in metros. In tier 2 and 3 cities, impact of the virus isn’t being felt yet.”
Firms takes precautionary steps
Mobility firms, however, are bracing up for the challenge. “The safety of citizens is our topmost priority. As much as we’d advise them to stay at home, our on-ground staff is tirelessly sanitising all vehicles and working towards ensuring the safety of people who are still on the go. We are ensuring that we are able to run our service with the least disruptions,” said Gupta.
A Bounce spokesperson said the firm has announced a reduction in the minimum fare and have waived off security deposit procedure for new users to ensure easy access to scooters in case of any emergency. “We encourage our users to remain calm, regularly wash their hands, use sanitizer before and after using scooters, using a personal helmet and being mindful of the surroundings,” the spokesperson said.
An Ola spokesperson said: “Our walk-in centres across cities have been equipped with a steady supply of health advisory material, sanitisers and masks, which can be picked up and used by the driver-partners to ensure the highest levels of cleanliness for themselves and their vehicles. This will help create a safer and cleaner ride experience for our customers as well.” Uber has also issued an advisory to its staff and users on preventive measures.
“We have provided customers with mandatory half helmets as opposed to full-face helmets. The captains are also asked to maintain personal hygiene and clean the pillion seat before on-boarding customers in addition to wearing a mask at all times,” said a Rapido spokesperson.