Ride-sharing–the industry term for taxis run by independent contractors through apps like Lyft or Uber–seemed like the inevitable future before 2020. Chances are good that you’ve hailed a ride with one of these services before.
But during the pandemic, rides-sharing got a lot more complicated. Here’s what you need to know about ordering a ride or even becoming a driver yourself.
Is It Safe?
Most basic question first: Is it safe to take an Uber or Lyft right now?
Consumer Reports states that “shared vehicles present unique risks when it comes to protecting riders and drivers.” That’s because you are inside a closed vehicle for an extended length of time. In addition, you can only hope that the driver has properly sanitized everything between riders.
Is it safer than taking public transportation such as buses and trains? Probably, just because you won’t come into contact with as many people. If you must travel via ride-share service, the CDC recommends that you:
- sit in the back of the vehicle
- ensure that the vents are bringing in fresh air
- roll down the windows
- handle your own baggage
Carpooling on Hold
Both Uber and Lyft have put their carpooling options on hold. That used to be a way for unrelated passengers to save money if they both needed to travel to or from the same place.
Obviously, sharing a ride with a stranger (or two) isn’t a smart idea at the moment. No word on when this option might return.
The CDC also recommends that you choose a car with a partition between the driver and passengers. That’s something typically found in traditional taxis, limos, and chauffeured town cars. Choosing an old-school ride might be more expensive (and less convenient, if they don’t have an app). However, they are also potentially much safer.
Becoming a Driver
If you are considering becoming a driver yourself, be aware that you’ll have to provide your own cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment. You will need to sanitize your vehicle between every passenger–and that’s time you won’t be paid for.
It might be better to pick up work as a delivery driver for UberEats, DoorDash, and other third-party companies that bridge the gap between restaurants and customers. While you will have to interact with a rep from the restaurant and, potentially, the customer, you won’t be trapped in a car with multiple strangers over the course of your workday.
Do This One Thing
Keeping your hands clean can do a lot to stop the spread of the virus. Regardless of whether you’re a driver or passenger, always use hand sanitizer after touching any surfaces. And as soon as you are able to do so, wash your hands.