There’s a variety of reasons ride-hailing services offered through providers like Lyft and Uber have become so popular:

  • They’re convenient. With this on-demand service, travelers don’t have to waste time hunting down a cab or waiting in a long line at a taxi stand. Plus, there’s never any miscommunication about the final destination, even when the traveler doesn’t speak the native language, since all translation is done through the apps.
  • They’re transparent about the price. Because many of these apps list a price upfront before a booking is confirmed, passengers can rest assured the driver isn’t “taking them for a ride” and doing multiple laps around the block to jack up the cost.
  • They offer touchless payments: Instead of travelers dealing with paper money and receipts, transactions are done through the app, making it a streamlined and safer expense process.
  • They have enhanced safety precautions: Drivers go through a thorough screening process. Passengers can make sure that the driver isn’t taking them off the beaten path by tracking the route in the app, which displays real-time route information.
  • They may offer a safer experience. With social distancing measures in place, ride-hailing services are seen as a safer alternative to public transportation options, reducing the number of people and surfaces passengers come in contact with.

Now some travel managers and security teams may be wondering about that last point and asking themselves: How safe are ride-hailing services right now? Aren’t some services offering shared rides with strangers who’d be sitting only 12 inches away?

The good news is, as of this writing, Lyft, Uber, and other ride-hailing providers have paused their shared-riding options temporarily. They also have adopted enhanced safety measures to help protect passengers and drivers, such as requiring everyone in the vehicle to wear face masks and practicing enhanced sanitizing protocols.

Our partner Lyft is also providing cleaning supplies to their drivers so they can disinfect their vehicles as well as high-quality partitions to create a barrier between the driver and passenger.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, suspect they may have it, or are being evaluated for it should not use ride-hailing or taxi services. Many ride-hailing providers are making sure passengers are following these guidelines by having them confirm through the app that they are symptom-free before granting them service.

Safeguards for passengers

When using ride-hailing services, there are several precautions travelers can take to help keep them safe, including:

  • Selecting vehicles that employ plexiglass partitions that separate you from the driver.
  • Wearing a face covering over the mouth and nose at all times during the ride.
  • Skipping carpool rides altogether if it’s presented as an option.
  • Putting their own luggage in the trunk.
  • Sanitizing their hands after coming into contact with high-touch surfaces like doors, door handles, window controls and air vents.
  • Requesting the driver ventilate the vehicle as best they can by lowering the windows or not using the air recirculation button on the air conditioning.

In addition to the above precautions, before getting into the car, travelers should verify that the automobile’s make, model, and license plate matches the information displayed in the app as well as greet the driver by name to make sure they’re entering the correct vehicle.

Especially when in an unfamiliar city, passengers may want to keep track of where they are heading by following the app’s real-time route information. They also may wish to give someone in the organization a heads-up on their whereabouts using the in-app feature that allows them to send their route information and estimated arrival time.

Tips for travel managers

While rare, problems with ride-hailing services occasionally do happen. In case your travelers have an issue with a service, be sure they have the emergency contact numbers of the ride-hailing service itself as well as those for your security team readily available.

As part of a company’s duty of care, you should also establish who is responsible if a passenger were to get injured during a ride – the ride-hailing company or your own organization. Because there aren’t necessarily clear-cut guidelines with ride-hailing services, you may require the counsel of your legal department.