Rideshare Report: The Changing Face of an Industry
Thinking about what your next Lyft will be like? We discuss what rideshare looks like post-pandemic for customers and the business.
Over the last few months, we have all become adept at staying home: working from the kitchen, making dinner more often, video conference hang-outs with friends. However, you have to leave home at some point – which means you need to think about how you’re going to get there. If ridesharing is your option, then it’s time for an update; things may look a little different than they did the last time you were in the back of an Uber.
How your ride has changed
Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have been navigating the coronavirus pandemic alongside the rest of us, leveraging technology to create a safer ride. The next time you call for a ride, you will most likely be prompted to complete a health check, declaring that you’re free of COVID-19 symptoms. In most jurisdictions, masks are mandatory, as well as sanitizing before you get in the vehicle. Look for your driver to be wearing a mask as well – something they will have verified via the company app.
For your ride, expect to sit in the back of the vehicle, perhaps with the windows down. While social distancing is a tricky thing to master in a vehicle, eliminating the front passenger seat allows for more room between the driver and rider, while cruising with the windows down offers more ventilation for all. Some drivers have installed a plexiglass screen to create a barrier between them and the rider, while others may have posted signage with COVID-19 warnings and reminders to refrain from touching surfaces. To encourage regular disinfection, some operators have been distributing sanitation and PPE supplies to drivers.
While companies are requiring mask use from drivers and riders, check in with your local municipality as well. For example, Toronto doesn’t categorize vehicles-for-hire as a public space that requires masks, but Edmonton is considering grouping rideshare and taxi into its mandatory mask policy. Once your ride is over, depending on the carrier you choose, you may be asked to confirm your driver’s mask usage when rating the overall trip.
The changes in ridesharing has people asking if it’s still a safe way to travel. The answer isn’t clear cut, as experts remind riders that every mode of transportation has its risks, and that sticking to essential trips is still the safest move. Minimize touching surfaces, and come equipped with hand sanitizer. It’s important to remember the risks that are involved with rideshare; you have no clue the health of other riders or the driver, especially if they are asymptomatic. This is where vigilance and proper hygiene is integral.
How the industry has changed
While the rideshare industry is coming back – albeit with changes – it’s been an interesting period of evolution for companies. As people stayed home, rider pools dried up, leaving drivers without income. Crashing revenues and plummeting ridership numbers forced companies to pivot, crafting a COVID-19 resiliency plan to rejuvenate ridership and strengthen stock prices.
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Doubling down on food delivery, companies found new opportunities to deliver other goods, like groceries and packages. Lyft developed partnerships with organizations to launch LyftUp, an initiative to provide free rides and essential deliveries of critical supplies to those in need. There was also a renewed interest in micromobility, which saw Uber investing in scooter company, Lime, effectively purchasing an even larger slice of the active transportation market.
Gett, a British- Israeli start up, opened up a funding round (daring move during an economic crisis and global pandemic), securing $100M to develop a specialized rideshare service for corporations. Recognizing that the way we move may be forever changed, Gett bet on corporate needs for transportation. Canadian-developed Facedrive used a homegrown narrative to provide rides for healthcare workers, and now is looking to use its technology for COVID-19 contact tracing, while Uber has been quietly providing contact tracking services to public health agencies for months.
Companies are pushing to stay relevant, evolving their “tech company” identity to provide software as a service (SaaS) in new and innovative ways. Through an acquisition of Routematch, Uber is moving into public transportation trip planning, while simultaneously making its mark on the commercial freight industry by opening its freight vertical to investors.
Where to go from here
With no pandemic playbook, every company’s response has been different, as analysts have found. While Uber is working to diversify its offerings, Lyft is reportedly tightening up its transportation services, largely focusing on its original peer-to-peer use case. COVID-19 has left the door open for emerging startups, who are jumping at the opportunity to design the future through new offerings and engagements. One thing is clear: rideshare companies are changing, with an eye towards thoughtful innovation that continues to connect people (and goods) in safe and secure ways.