Ridesharing during a pandemic is a fraught experience for everyone involved. For drivers and passengers alike, it can mean risking exposure to someone who is ill. While some would argue that services like Uber and Lyft should not be in operation during this time, it's not that simple, for either party.
Ridesharing, and the gig economy in general, makes for precarious work. Many drivers rely on the service to keep a roof over their heads and, without financial assistance in weathering the COVID-19 storm, are forced to keep driving in order to survive.
At the same time, many passengers are relying on the service to get around. For those without vehicles and for those forced to venture out into transit-inaccessible spaces, Uber and Lyft are playing a crucial role.
In an article for Forbes, Janet Burns argues that gig-economy drivers and delivery drivers face "some of the harshest working conditions" during this pandemic:
"Those conditions include severe financial strain, uncertainty about their ability to work or self-isolate, and direct exposure to sick and contagious people... gig workers have also said that the options platform companies have provided so far may not be sufficient or fair."
In the same article, Burns relays the story of an Uber driver who, within the space of only a few days, taxied a man who claimed to have recovered after contracting the virus and another whose destination was the hospital and who was coughing up blood in the back seat of the vehicle.
While there is a lack of easy solutions to this problem, there are ways that drivers and passengers alike can reduce the risk. In another article for Forbes, Bill Robertson gives advice to both drivers and passengers on keeping safe. From washing hands and doing deep cleans to having transparent conversations about safety measures, it's important to be conscientious and intentional when it comes to safety.
And for passengers - tip your driver!
For more on the risks that ridesharing drivers are taking, check out the original article by Janet Burns in Forbes. For more on how drivers and passengers alike can stay safe, check out the Bill Robert's advice in Forbes.