Coronavirus: Uber and Lyft drivers weigh risk of safety against paycheck

While Lyft Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. have seen a bump in business from the spreading coronavirus, their drivers are weighing the risks of staying safe versus continuing to earn a paycheck.

File photo (AP)
File photo

A study published Friday shows that more than half of ride-hailing drivers said they were now “very concerned" about reduced earnings as a result of the virus and 41% said they’ve modified their driving strategy as a result. These changes include reducing hours, refusing airport rides and halting driving entirely. The survey of 871 drivers in the U.S. from March 1 to March 4 compared data with similar four-day periods in 2020 and was conducted by driver productivity app Gridwise.“They are doing what they have to do to continue earning," said Brandon Sellers, a product growth specialist at the Pittsburgh-based startup. About one-third of drivers are now wiping down their cars with disinfectant after every ride, using hand sanitizer and wearing a mask, he said. “The data is telling us that drivers are afraid."

The fear among drivers comes just as more passengers seem to be seeking rides or ordering food delivery in an effort to avoid crowds. But for those drivers willing to take the risk, wages increased 6% during the study period, according to Gridwise, due to fewer drivers competing for rides and more surge pricing, which increases prices during peak demand.

Also check these Vehicles

Find more Cars
Toyota Glanza (HT Auto photo)
₹ 7.18 - 9.45 Lakhs* *Ex-showroom price
Add to compare
Check latest offers
Mahindra Ekuv100 (HT Auto photo)
₹ 8.25 - 10 Lakhs* *Expected Price
View Details
Kia Sonet (HT Auto photo)
₹ 6.79 - 13.35 Lakhs* *Ex-showroom price
Add to compare
Check latest offers
Mercedes-benz Amg Glc43 Coupe (HT Auto photo)
₹ 83.10 Lakhs* **Ex-showroom price
Add to compare
Check latest offers
Land Rover Range Rover Sport (HT Auto photo)
₹ 1.64 - 1.84 Cr* *Ex-showroom price
Add to compare
Check latest offers
Porsche 911 (HT Auto photo)
₹ 1.64 - 3.08 Cr* *Ex-showroom price
Add to compare
Check latest offers

Lyft Chief Financial Officer Brian Roberts said Tuesday during a conference in San Francisco that the last week of February marked the highest amount of revenue and rides in the company’s eight-year history. He suggested concerns about the virus spreading actually sparked an increase in demand from users who normally take public transit.

During a separate conference the following day, Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi suggested an increase in food orders could offset what he acknowledged was a modest, but non-material dip, in airport rides. He reiterated last month’s pledge that Uber would be profitable by year’s end, adding that he was “more confident" now than before fears of the virus had taken hold.

The Gridwise survey also found that 18% of drivers second-guessed whether or not they would pick up passengers of “Chinese or other descent."

The situation remains fluid. New reports of outbreaks and government responses, from California’s declared state of emergency and lockdowns in parts of Washington state, could change rider and driver behavior.

Uber and Lyft flagged the virus as a risk factor in their annual filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Lyft noted it had already disrupted supply chains for producing bikes and electric scooters, while Uber said the fear of such a pandemic could have an impact. On Thursday, Lyft became the latest company with a confirmed case of the virus at its corporate headquarters in San Francisco. The company closed the office for deep cleaning and ordered employees to work from home for a week.

First Published Date: 09 Mar 2020, 10:04 AM IST
Shopping Bag Shop Now
74% OFF
Microfiber Car Cleaning Soft Brush Ideal as Mop Duster, Washing Brush with Long Handle, Dust Cleaner Car Wash Brush with Handle, Soft Brush Scratch Free, Cleaning Dashboard Curved Design - Grey
Rs. 389 Rs. 1,499
75% OFF
IDELLA Car Duster, Extendable Long Handle Microfiber Car Duster Exterior Scratch Free Car Cleaning Tool, Car Dust Brush for Truck, Pickup, SUV, RV, Motorcycle, Vehicles Cleaning,(Multicolor)
Rs. 227 Rs. 899
64% OFF
Antson Portable High Power 2 in 1 Car Vacuum Cleaner | USB Rechargeable Wireless Handheld Car Vacuum Cleaner Traveling, Camping Reusable and Sustainable, Portable,Rechargeable Vacuum (2 in 1)
Rs. 699 Rs. 1,939
1% OFF
GOODAIR Clear Car Windshield Enhancer | Classic |12 Tablets
Rs. 295 Rs. 299

Please provide your details to get Personalized Offers on

Choose city
+91 | Choose city
Choose city
Choose city
Powered by: Acko Logo
Please be noted that any information provided herein above will be received by Acko General Insurance Limited (“Acko”). By mentioning the above information, you agree to provide these details and information to Acko.
By clicking "View Offers" you Agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy

Dear Name

Please verify your mobile number.

+91 | Choose city
Couldn't verify the OTP.
It's either expired or it's incorrect.