Rideshare industry changes lanes

Businesses across the country have been shut down due to coronavirus concerns. So how are Uber and Lyft drivers adapting to social distancing measures?

Posted: Mar 31, 2020 7:02 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- On a typical weekend night, the streets of downtown Eugene are crowded with people, which typically means good business for Uber and Lyft drivers.

Before this global pandemic, restaurants, hotels, bars and airports were a feeding ground for the rideshare industry. However, now that everything has shut down, drivers claim the volume of rides is the same but the destinations are different.

“I’ve had several people who say they normally take the bus but are now using Lyft and Uber because they don’t feel as safe on the bus with so many people,” said Lyft driver James Duke.

“It’s really shifted to grocery stores and taking (medical) employees to nursing homes or hospitals. So the focus of the drivers have changed,” said James Cairns.

Some drivers have struggled during this time. Lyft driver Dave Lovan has to spend more time out on the road fishing for rides. A couple months ago, it wouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to find the next ride. Now he’s waiting about a half hour and that’s taking a toll on how much he can earn per day.

“Most drivers have a pattern of areas that they drive and a good percentage of us drive up on campus. But there’s not a lot of business on campus anymore,” Lovan said.

Health is the biggest concern revolving around the rideshare industry. Social distancing and proper sanitation are the keys to staying safe and healthy. A lot of drivers are like James Cairns. He carries Lysol wipes in his front seat and wipes down the interior and exterior every time he picks up a passenger.

"Before I go on my next run, I will wipe down the inside and outside of the door handle, as well as whichever seat the passenger sat in,” said Cairns.

If drivers have to stop for any reason during this uncertain time, Lyft and Uber will cover them financially based on their activity on the rideshare app.

“Should a driver test positive and be taken off the road, (Uber and Lyft) are guaranteeing the drivers some income so they can make it through all this.”

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