Cab-hailing services Ola and Uber have resumed operations in select cities as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced considerable relaxations to lockdown restrictions.
Ola has re-launched cab services in 54 cities across 15 states while Uber resumed services in 25 cities across 13 states and a union territory. Ola auto and bike taxi services and Uber’s auto rides are also available in select cities.
The health ministry has categorized the country into three zones -- red, orange, and green -- depending on the spread of the virus.
According to the new guidelines, taxis and cab aggregators are permitted to operate with a maximum of two passengers besides the driver in green and orange zones. In red zones, commercial taxis and cab aggregators are banned.
“If you are booking a car or an auto ride, to maintain social distancing, we recommend not more than two riders should travel at a time, besides the driver. No one should also be seated right next to the driver,” Uber said in a blog post on its website.
Uber Essential (travel for medical purposes) and Uber Medic (transportation of frontline healthcare workers) are available in eight and 17 cities respectively.
Ola Emergency services, which transports people in need of medical care, is available in 15 cities.
Share and outstation services of both the companies remain suspended for now.
During the first two phases of lockdown, the cab aggregators were mostly engaged in the transportation of healthcare workers and the delivery of essential supplies. Both Ola and Uber have forged strategic partnerships with the various government organisations and ecommerce firms for these services.
Meanwhile, Ola has launched an initiative called ‘10 steps to a safer ride’ to ensure safety of customers and driver-partners. The programme includes a mandatory selfie authentication mechanism before and after every ride to ensure that rides are offered only in the identified safe zones. The company also said all cars will be cleaned and sanitized after each ride and flexible cancellation policy has also been introduced under which both the customer and driver-partner can cancel the ride if they feel the other party is not following the rules or not wearing a mask.