Chennai: Ride hailing apps Uber and Lyft suspended the shared rides feature in a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 in the United States and Canada as well as the cities of London and Paris.
Uber Pool and Ola Share allow passengers to book trips at lower prices if they share the trip with up to three other passengers on similar routes, rather than if they booked the whole ride for themselves.
“Our goal is to help flatten the curve on community spread in the cities we serve,” senior vice president Uber Rides and Platform Andrew Macdonald said in a statement.
However, neither Uber nor its home-grown Indian counterpart Ola have suspended shared rides in India, which is expecting the number of coronavirus infections, which on Wednesday hit 147, to increase in the next few weeks.
MacDonald also said the company was in “close contact with local leaders and will continue to work with them to discourage non-essential travel”, and that shared rides could be suspended in more countries on a case-by-case basis.
Uber and Ola rides have reportedly fallen by as much as 80 per cent amid the coronavirus crisis. Drivers have been seeking a moratorium on loans they have taken from financiers as their earnings have dropped significantly.
While Uber has said on its website said that any driver who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or has been asked by a public health authority to self-isolate will receive financial assistance for a period of 14 days, it gave no details. As for the loss of business due to a massive drop in the number of rides drivers get every day, the company has not offered any financial support.