How shared mobility startups are stepping up efforts against Covid-19

How shared mobility startups are stepping up efforts against Covid-19
Photo Credit: VCCircle

From launching funds to help drivers to ferrying healthcare workers, mobility startups have increased efforts to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.

Mobility startups such as Ola, Uber, Yulu and Bounce saw their operations take a hit even before the country went under a 21-day complete lockdown on March 25. This was mostly due to several companies adopting work from home model and government’s advisory on social distancing.

Read: Coronavirus India LIVE Updates

As with other gig economy startups, the mobility startups expect business to continue to suffer, at least in the short term, as companies brace themselves against the economic fallout of the pandemic. 

ANI Technologies-owned shared mobility platform Ola recently launched a fund to support auto rickshaw, cab and black-and-yellow taxi drivers. The initiative, Drive the Driver Fund, is targeting a corpus of Rs 20 crore from the Ola Foundation, the social welfare arm of the Bengaluru-based company. Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of the company, will forgo a year’s salary to contribute to the fund.

Bengaluru-based Ola had previously announced a Coronavirus insurance cover for its driver-partners and their spouses and waived off lease rentals for driver partners, who lease vehicles from its subsidiary Ola Fleet Technologies.

San Francisco headquartered Uber has also ramped up its response in India and across the world. 

One such effort by the ride hailing giant is the UberMedic, a service to transport healthcare workers. 

To ensure safety of its drivers, Uber has provided personal protective equipment (PPE) including hand sanitisers, gloves, disinfectant sprays and face masks. Drivers have been given training on safety protocols, such as not allowing riders to sit in the front passenger seat.

Uber has announced 14 days of financial assistance for its Covid-19 affected drivers and delivery personnel globally, depending on the average earnings of the individual for the past six months.

The company has also pledged to complete 10 million free rides and food deliveries globally,  according to a tweet by Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber.

Bengaluru-based self-drive car rental platform Zoomcar has offered transport service for essential workers.

“The service ensures these partnering organisations are able to lower the barriers for essential personnel to come in and serve the critical day to day and emergency needs of the citizens,” the company said in a statement.

Bengaluru headquartered Bounce has embraced drones and is now offering 4-8 fully automated and piloted drones to local police forces to enable aerial surveillance and information dissemination, Vivekananda HR, co-founder of Bounce said in a tweet. 

Bounce, owned by Wickedride Adventure Services, has also offered its bikes to Hyderabad police to set up barricades on main roads to handle the traffic. 

Micro mobility startup Yulu Bikes, which offers bicycles and electric scooters, is has rolled out Yulu Prive, its scooter service dedicated to essential personnel. Scooters on Yulu Prive can be accessed at a flat rate Rs 89 per day as against Rs 10 for every ten minutes during other times.