Cab-aggregator Uber resumed its services in Chennai Thursday. Residents can now access UberGO, UberXL, and Uber Premier services, with rates dependent on the demand-supply algorithm.
Over the past few weeks, Uber had launched a comprehensive set of safety measures, such as the Go Online Checklists, a mandatory mask policy for both riders and drivers and pre-trip mask verification selfies for drivers, along with an updated cancellation policy, allowing both riders and drivers to cancel trips if they don’t feel safe.
Uber driver-partners have been directed to disinfect their car before and after every trip. To allow for space between the driver and the rider, customers are advised not to occupy the front seat. Only two riders are allowed in a car.
In a release, Ratul Ghosh, Head Ridesharing, East and South India, said on resumption of services: “This will bring back earning opportunities for our drivers and we will constantly work with the authorities to continue to ensure the highest possible hygiene and safety standards for our drivers and riders.”
The released added that Uber has provided more than 3 million masks and 20,000 bottles of disinfectants and sanitisers to its driver-partners free of cost.
When asked how Uber is taking care of its driving partners in the lockdown, a spokesperson of Uber via mail said they had created the ‘Uber Care Driver Fund’ with an initial commitment of Rs 25 crore from the company, and welcomed contributions from their employees, citizens, NGOs and corporate partners.
“Through the fund collected, we have disbursed grants to more than 90,000 drivers. It is in addition to tens of thousands of free rides that are being offered to various state governments, and for services provided on UberMedic, UberEssentials and last mile deliveries. Other forms of our support to drivers during these challenging times includes waiver of lease rentals, facilitating EMI relief, rolling out an additional insurance policy and offering drivers access to online medical services such as DocsAPP at no charge,” the spokesperson said.
Though the services have resumed, many are still reluctant to avail of them.
Lakshmi Narayanan, who resides near Medavakkam in Chennai, said she is a regular user of private aggregators like Uber and Ola because of their low price and quick service in comparison with regular autos/taxis. But now, she is hesitant to travel in cabs due to the fear of the coronavirus spread.
“Just like everyone, I am scared about the spread of the virus. Though I have heard from my friends that the drivers wear masks, provide sanitizers, etc. I am still hesitant to travel. Maybe after 10-15 days, after seeing positive responses from more users, I might opt for their service again,” she said.
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