The coronavirus outbreak continues to grip the United States and the world as a number of industries, including the rideshare industry, have been affected.
Both Uber and Lyft have seen their stock plummet as investors grow increasingly concerned about whether or not demand will slow as more and more people stay home to combat the virus.
But what about the drivers?
84% of drivers tell us they are concerned about the economic fallout from coronavirus. So, we recently completed a passenger study to help us understand what passenger demand looks like now, and could look like going forward.
From March 5 to March 9, the Gridwise team conducted a survey of 750 frequent rideshare passengers from 12 markets where multiple TNCs (and Gridwise) operate.
The markets polled included New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle. We choose these cities in order to best represent the largest cities in the United States, along with cities most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Quotas and weights were used to ensure the sample was representative of the actual rideshare passenger population. Respondents were given a small financial incentive and were guaranteed anonymity to further encourage representative participation.
The margin of error for the entire data set is ±5.0% at the 95% confidence level. Due to rounding, answer choices may not add up to exactly 100%.
Passengers are taking fewer pooled rides.
Unsurprisingly, the number of passengers using pooled rides is decreasing.
Passengers are staying at home more; but when they go out, they are using rideshare services more.
Yes, passengers have been going out less to avoid contracting the coronavirus—but when they do choose to go out, these same passengers have been taking less public transportation and more Uber/Lyft rides.
23.5% of passengers are using rideshare services more while 26.4% say they are staying at home more.
Some passengers are working from home more.
A growing number of passengers are choosing to work from home as opposed to going into their offices.
But when they do go to work, they are taking less public transportation.
The number of respondents that take public transportation multiple times per week to get to work fell from 373 to 289. This represents a 23.3% decrease.
Passengers are going out less for discretionary reasons as well
Over 50% of passengers are going out less for discretionary purposes like shopping, drinking, and spending time with friends and family.
But again, when they do go out, they are using public transportation less.
The number of respondents that take public transportation multiple times per week for discretionary reasons fell from 322 to 234. This represents a 27.3% decrease.
What does this mean for drivers?
Above all else, drivers need to stay safe and protect themselves.
This means keeping yourself healthy, and also keeping your vehicle cleaned and sanitized, as the rideshare companies suggest. One driver we talked to provides tissues and disinfectant wipes to passengers, cracks the windows on the vehicle to let in fresh air, and washes his hands as frequently as possible.
They sent us photos of their new setup:
If a potential passenger appears to be gravely ill, you do not have to take the ride. Explain politely that you have to protect your future passengers as well as yourself from contracting whatever illness that person might have.
Stay healthy and strong.
A strong immune system is the best defense you can have against any infection. Get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, avoid getting run down, and take whatever works to support your immunity. Some great immune system boosters include vitamin C, zinc, elderberry, echinacea, Cordyceps, and oil of oregano.
Keep in mind that these are not treatments; rather, they are herbal remedies that have been shown to keep the immune system healthy. It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before adding new supplements to your diet.
But what about driver earnings?
Many rideshare drivers depend on driving for Uber and Lyft for a significant amount of their income, which means they can’t afford to just stop driving. So how can drivers keep the income flowing while demand seems to be dropping?
Driver earnings per hour are actually up since the coronavirus outbreak.
Every driver needs to make his or her own decision about whether or not they should be driving; however, not everyone has a choice. The good news is, drivers who are still driving are seeing their earnings actually increase by about 8% per hour as of March 11, 2020.
We suspect this is a result of driver supply decreasing at a faster rate than rider demand is decreasing. With more and more passengers avoiding public transportation, we could see increasing numbers of them turning to rideshare services.
There are still events going on.
If you do decide to get out on the road, events are going to be more important than ever as more passengers are looking to rideshare services instead of public transportation.
Your event listing in the Gridwise app has been thoroughly checked to ensure that all events are actually happening.
While rideshare has been shaky, delivery services have seen a boom as more people are flocking to Postmates, DoorDash, and Instacart for food delivery and groceries. Consider signing up for one or more of these services to stay busy, or turning them on if you have already signed up.