Uber, Lyft halt ride-sharing in US and Canada amid coronavirus fears

Uber, Lyft halt ride-sharing in U.S. and Canada amid coronavirus fears

Uber and Lyft have started to suspend shared ride bookings in the United States and Canada, in a clear effort to help limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) among its North American customers.

In addition, Reuters reports that Uber has also suspended ride-sharing in London and Paris.

Uber passengers used to be able to take advantage of a carpooling option by way of Uber Pool. For those not familiar with the option, it basically allows passengers to share a ride with up to three strangers, and in the process, pay less compared to a regular solo ride booking.

Much has already been said about the need to practice “social distancing” as a means for helping combat the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, which has grown global in scale in the past few weeks. However, for shared rides like those offered by Uber and other ride-hailing services, social distancing does not quite work when one has to sit right next to somebody who may or may not be a carrier of the virus.

Another shared ride service provider, Lyft, has also decided to suspend its carpooling option in all its markets. Right now, the company operates in hundreds of cities in the US and in a few Canadian cities. Lyft has indicated in its official website that it’s “pausing Shared rides across all of our markets.” Adrian Durbin, who heads communications at Lyft, has also said as much via a tweet:

What about other Uber services?

While it is true that the Uber Pool option has been disabled indefinitely for both US and Canadian users, it doesn’t mean that other services from Uber will also be biting the dust soon.

It’s no secret that Uber generates most of its revenues from the sheer volume of bookings they accept for regular Uber rides, and of course, Uber Eats. And the ride-hailing platform has made it clear that these popular options will remain available in the US and Canada.

Will other markets follow suit?

That remains to be seen for now. According to the Reuters report, there’s a possibility that users based in other markets will also see the Uber Pool option deactivated soon, albeit temporarily. 

As Andrew Macdonald, senior vice president of Uber Rides and Platform, said in a statement that the immediate objective is to “help flatten the curve on community spread in the cities we serve.”

Of course, Uber will have some serious evaluation to do in deciding which other markets across the globe will have to do away with the Uber Pool option, just as it has done with the U.S. and Canada.

A busy week for Uber

The last few days have been busy for the ride-hailing company. Earlier this week, it detailed its coronavirus response measures, which include the temporary suspension of the accounts of any Uber driver or passenger diagnosed with COVID-19.

In addition, the company will also provide up to 14 days of paid sick leave to Uber drivers and delivery staff who test positive for COVID-19, are placed under quarantine, or are asked to self-isolate by public health officials.

And just recently, Uber Eats announced that it was waiving delivery fees for independent restaurants within the US and Canada. As indicated in Uber’s official website, the general idea is to “drive sales to local favorites.”

Featured image courtesy of Stock Catalog / Flickr

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