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Challenges and Scope in Ride-Hailing Industry Amidst COVID-19

In 2020, we have seen it all, from droughts to fire and then pandemic. The response of communities and government has drastically impacted our lives and local and international transportation systems. Global airlines, local buses, and taxi systems have seen a sharp decline in customers. There is pressure from the government to shut or reduce operations landed the transportation industry in trouble. However, the pandemic has allowed thinking about the shortcomings and provide a seamless and resilient experience to customers.

What's the Silver lining?

Although the current scenario is not favorable for the ride-hailing industry, all is not lost. A recent survey pointed out that after the coronavirus pandemic, the global ride-sharing market size is expected to grow at an extraordinary growth of 55.6% from the year 2020 to 2021. From USD 75.39 billion in 2020, it will reach 117.34 billion by the end of 2021.

In the past few years, we have seen the popularity of ride-sharing services due to its several benefits: reduced traffic congestion, fewer travel costs, and fewer emissions. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the cab sharing market is expected to lose its share by 60%. The good news is that it will gain its market by 80% by 2021. Strategies such as providing partitions that will help keep the distance between passenger and driver, checking body temperature of passengers, making sanitizers and masks compulsory to eliminate the threat of infections will help the market stand on its feet again. In addition to that, it is expected that due to these precautionary measures, fares will increase.

Guidelines Issued By Uber & Lyft

Drivers Must Wear a Mask
The guidelines by both Uber and Lyft state that drivers must wear a mask or some form of face-covering. Lyft drivers are asked to self-certify within the app that they're wearing a mask, but Uber has gone a step ahead; it utilizes new technology that requires drivers to take a selfie wearing a mask before logging into their accounts. The technology detects whether the driver is wearing a mask; if the mask isn't there, the app will restrict them from picking up riders.
Riders Must Wear a Mask
Both drivers and riders are required to complete a checklist before booking an Uber or Lyft. Drivers and passengers have to confirm stuff like they're wearing a mask and are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms. Both the cab booking firms are encouraging drivers and passengers to cancel their trips if they find the other user isn't following safety protocols.
Riders Will Be Required to Wash Their Hands
Before hailing the cab, both Uber and Lyft passengers are required to wash their hands. Though it's not clear how this particular guideline will be implemented, passengers will be asked to wash or sanitize their hands before sitting inside the cab. Since it's important to exercise hygiene measures to stay protected from coronavirus, it's a good move on the part of the companies to prevent COVID-19.
Passengers Will Sit in the Backseat
The new guidelines state that passengers will only be allowed to sit in the backseats. The ideal 2 meters social distancing guideline isn't possible in most cabs. However, drivers and passengers can still maintain a safe distance between each other if the rider sat in the backseat.
Windows should be Partially or fully Open
Both passengers and drivers are advised to keep the car windows open as much as possible. It is because if COVID-19 particles are already present in the vehicle and if the windows are closed, they will remain circulating in the space. Increased airflow by opening the windows will minimize the risk.
No More Shared Cabs
Since social distancing is crucial in staying protected from COVID-19, pooled, or shared cabs won't be available anytime soon.
Economy Will Eventually Get Back on Track
For the time being, social distancing and masks are the new norms, scientists are working day and night to develop a vaccine, and eventually, things will get back on the track. In the past, the world has seen many pandemics, and they brought everything to a standstill, but with time everything came back to normal. There are many challenges for people who are thinking of starting a ride-hailing business in the middle of a pandemic. However, innovation comes through tackling these challenges and helps us to get through difficult situations.
Ideal Testing Ground
The coronavirus pandemic has taken away the weight of expectations from the shoulders of startups. Current situations also provide a wide range of opportunities for businesses to apply their new strategies and plan to see the result they produce. It was hard to imagine this in the pre coronavirus phase when big companies such as Uber and Lyft dominated the cab-hailing business, but things are different. Startups can make their mark by introducing a new technology that addresses safety concerns and passengers' health. It will increase the credibility of the business.
Grow and Learn
In normal circumstances, it is crucial to growing while you learn; it becomes all the more important when we are fighting a pandemic. By going through this approach, cab-hailing startups can kick start their venture by providing a lightweight solution that aims at fulfilling the basic needs of passengers. Also, during the pandemic, the safety measures should be at the core of such a solution. When the solution gains popularity and feedbacks pour in, crucial improvements in terms of design and utility should be introduced to increase customer retention and acquisition.

Author Bio

Regina Deemer

Content Writer

Regina Deemer is a content writer, mobility strategist and blogger who writes on the latest technology and business-related topics. At present, she is working with Cerebrum Infotech, a leading custom software application development company.