On Tuesday, Uber announced it would be suspending shared rides (carpooling) in the United States and Canada to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Previously, the company allowed users heading to the same destination to split the cost of a trip. The firm also said it would consider discontinuing its UberPool service in other markets it operates.
Uber will also give its users warnings to only book rides when necessary via its mobile application. The firm recommends customers wash their hands before and after transport and roll down the window to enhance air circulation.
The Implications of Suspending UberPool
Budget-conscious North American travelers may resent Uber’s decision to suspend carpooling. But the corporation’s move to halt shared rides is sensible. At present, medical professionals have reported over 5,600 cases of coronavirus infection in the United States and 500 in Canada. The White House advised citizens on Monday to limit personal gatherings to 10 people and recommended the closure of public gathering places to clamp down on the pandemic.
As UberPool lets up to three riders briefly share the same space, the service could unintentionally help spread the virus.
The Verge notes Uber policy change will likely please its vehicle operators for health and monetary reasons. The publication states the Independent Drivers Guild pushed the corporation to end carpooling in response to the Centers for Disease Control’s social distancing advisory.
Uber’s Coronavirus Response
Uber has done more than suspend shared rides to support its drivers. On March 26, the corporation announced it changed its sick leave policy to encompass more of its workers. Now, vehicle operators diagnosed with or quarantined because of COVID-19 are entitled to 14 days of paid time off. To qualify for that benefit, drivers need to have completed one trip in the 30 days preceding March 6.
The company has also extended sick leave to drivers who had their accounts suspended due to public health advisories.
The corporation is calculating its sick leave disbursements by analyzing vehicle operators’ per day earnings. For instance, a driver that made an average of $80 a day in the last six months could receive a payment of $1,120.
According to Indeed, Uber drivers in the United States have an average annual salary of $29,299.
In addition, the San Francisco-based firm is endeavoring to halt the spread of COVID-19 among its customers and vendors. The company gave Uber Eats subscribers the option to have their food dropped off to preclude physical contact. The firm also announced plans to supply its drivers with disinfectants to keep their automobiles clean.
Uber also waived delivery fees on Uber Eats orders from independent restaurants placed within North America to support small businesses.
Last week, The Burn-In highlighted the plight of gig economy workers in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of financial need, independent drivers and delivery people are putting their health and safety at risk. Thankfully, Uber is making crucial policy changes to provide its workers with aid in an extremely trying time.