Engadget reports that Uber plans on rolling this new system out as part of its efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. They hope this move reassures riders of ride-sharing safety.
Due to the threat of COVID-19 spreading globally, rideshare businesses have been shut down for weeks now. Aside from its delivery program, Uber’s business in the past two months has been significantly reduced.
According to CNN Business, the rideshare portion of its business makes up around 81% of Uber’s revenue. This means that for the end of the first quarter, shelter-at-home protocols are sure to have affected Uber’s bottom line.
Uber has previously implemented a realtime ID check of its drivers. The company rolled this out in order to make sure that only registered drivers were behind the wheel.
This was also done as a safety feature of the ride-sharing app. Uber has not spoken about it’s new safety system aside from that it will be rolled out in the next few weeks, but it could be an extension of this.
Uber has also begun distributing disinfectants and masks to its delivery personnel. However, it has done this slowly as supplies were relatively scarce, and it only has a limited number of active employees, which could be prompting reports of potential Uber layoffs.
The company said that while driver safety is their priority, ensuring that global frontliners have access to the safety equipment first is a more pressing need.
However, Uber’s head of safety communications told CNN Business that:
“As countries reopen, Uber is focused on safety and proceeding with caution. Today, we continue to ask riders to stay home if they can, while shipping safety supplies to drivers who are providing essential trips. At the same time, our teams are preparing for the next phase of recovery, where we will all have a role to play”
How the company plans to ensure that its riders are wearing masks remains to be seen. But it would have to take into consideration the privacy of the rider before it rolls out any system.
However, Uber is firm in its decision to require all riders and drivers to wear facemasks or similar facial shields in order to promote safety.
The company is currently embattled with both California’s assertion that Uber’s drivers are employees, and in light of what The Information reports as looming Uber layoffs. It remains to be seen how the company will roll out this new system to its drivers, and how a relatively unhappy workforce will react.
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