Ride-Hailing Support Efforts in COVID-19 TimesBy Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 05/05/2020 - 17:04
Ride-hailing apps have experienced a sharp decline in demand as lockdwon continues in Mexico. Uber, DiDi and Cabify, the three market leaders, have been forced to adapt to a new environment where people stay home. But, mobility goes on.
According to Juan Andrés Panamá, Director of Ridesharing Operations at DiDi México, demand for rides has dropped between 40 and 50 percent in March. Meanwhile, according to El Heraldo de México, Uber and Cabify drivers have seen their income decrease to between 30 and 50 percent of what they usually receive. Drivers from different ride-hailing apps protested in different points of Mexico City during April. The protesters demanded government support to cope with a downturn in ride-hailing demand.
Companies have already implemented their own support programs. Gretta González, Ridesharing Director of Uber México, told Publimetro that the company had created a partnership with PepsiCo, one of Mexico's largest food and beverages companies, to provide 1,100 temporary positions at PepsiCo to Uber drivers. Meanwhile, Cabify México's Director General, Agustín Jiménez, told Mexico Business News that the company is working with Lana, a company that is part of the same group to which Cabify belongs, “to grant microloans of up to MX$18,000 (US$740) to drivers, according to their characteristics and profile."
DiDi México is also contributing to support partner drivers under different schemes. “We are supporting our partner drivers in different ways. We have a primary focus on full-time drivers, the ones who need DiDi the most, to provide them with incentives to increase their income per hour. For our drivers that are 65 years old or older, we offered a fixed income of 75 percent of their profit over the past 28 days so they can stay at home. The other 25 percent is what they usually destine to gasoline and maintenance,” says Panamá.
Companies are also adapting their business models to assure a sustained cash flow for as long as lockdown last in the country. "Cabify launched a new in-app service called Envíos that allows people to send things from one place to another without leaving their home," says Jimenez. Uber underwent a similar path with its Uber Flash service. "We launched Uber Flash in 48 cities, which allows users to send any package to someone that has stayed home. In addition, in 20 cities, drivers can participate in Uber Eats, too," says González.
Ride-hailing companies have not failed to support the health sector to endure the pandemic. Uber and DiDi have provided free rides to nurses and medical staff while following the recommendations proposed by WHO to protect both users and drivers.