- Lyft and Uber both suspended their shared pooled ride services — Lyft Line and UberPool, respectively — effective Tuesday in the United States and Canada in a bid to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
- "Our goal is to help flatten the curve of community spread in the cities we serve," Andrew Macdonald, Uber's SVP of Global Rides and Platform, said in a written statement to Smart Cities Dive. In an email, a Lyft spokesperson told Smart Cities Dive the "health and safety of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we’re dedicated to doing what we can to slow the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and base our actions on official guidance."
- Single rides and delivery services like Uber Eats will continue to be available, although officials from both companies said they may adjust operations as needed.
Uber's emphasis now is on flattening the curve of community spread. As of Tuesday, riders were being presented with in-app information on how they can prevent further infection, as well as being told to consider if their trip is essential and only travel "if necessary." That information includes various tips on how to "keep your driver's well-being in mind," like recommendations to wash hands, sit in the back seat and cover your nose and mouth.
"If you must travel, please exercise caution for your safety and the safety of our community," the information page in the app reads. There is also a link to further recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO).
When it comes to containing the spread of the coronavirus, it is perhaps unsurprising that shared rides are being suspended for an undetermined period. The service is available in the United States and Canada and allows drivers to have up to three passengers going in the same direction, making it a potential hotbed for spreading the virus. UberPool is also available in some of the hardest hit cities including San Francisco and Seattle.
Ride-hailing companies have come under major pressure from drivers' groups to offer more protections. In a statement issued Monday, the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG), which advocates for more than 80,000 New York City ride-hailing drivers, called for a moratorium on shared services and urged the city to provide 14 days of sick pay for any drivers directed to self-isolate by a medical professional.
Uber said Sunday it would expand its sick pay policy so any drivers who test positive; are quarantined; or have their accounts suspended due to public health advice would be entitled to 14 days of paid sick leave. IDG said it is imperative for ride-hailing companies to be partners in the fight against the pandemic.
"The lives of drivers, riders and members of our communities depend on our city and the app companies taking responsible action right now, today, and communicating these policies and resources to the drivers," Brendan Sexton, IDG's executive director, said in a statement on Monday.
To keep up with all of our coverage on how the new coronavirus is impacting U.S. cities, visit our daily tracker.