INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — As central Indiana begins to awake from its coronavirus slumber, mobile transportation companies are figuring out how to provide rides for people in the new norm.
Bird scooters re-launched in Indy last week, while Lime re-deployed on Thursday. Bird sent out a small fleet, so they could keep up with routine cleanings throughout the day.
“Everything from the handlebars to the bell to the throttle to the neck,” explains Maurice Henderson, Bird’s Director of Government Partnerships, “Any towel that has been used to wipe a Bird has been washed or disposed after that cleaning. Once you’ve taken the ride, don’t touch your face, don’t touch your mouth, after you get off the vehicle go and wash your hands as soon as you get where you’re going.”
Lime says they have workers in each market who have been assigned to keep the scooters cleaned regularly. They will go around with a spray disinfectant to the entire scooter.
“[The scooter is cleaned] every time we touch it, every time it comes into the shop, every time we charge it,” says Crew Cypher, Midwest General Manager for Lime.
While the number of rides may be down, both companies say they are seeing a shift in how riders are using their products in this social distancing climate.
“For those who don’t want to get on public transit, we see ourselves as an enabler,” adds Henderson.
“What we are finding is users are taking trips twice as long as before,” says Cypher echoing the notion that people are avoiding public transit during the pandemic, “We think a lot of it has to do with the open air travel that these vehicles are associated with.”
In addition, Lime has launched a new initiative called “Lime Aid” to help front line workers in cities who need safe way to get to work without a car.
“If you are a medical professional, police officer, or some sort of essential worker, we are offering free rides up to 30 minutes,” says Cypher.
What about Uber? They are encouraging people to stay at home unless travel is essential. In the meantime, they are suggesting their drivers start getting behind the wheel for their Uber Eats food delivery service. The functions are seeing an uptick during the pandemic, as people hunker down and order out. In early April, they began sending disinfectant to drivers in cities severely impacted by the virus.
“To date we have been able to ship and pack over 800,000 masks to drivers across the us,” says Uber spokesperson Kayla Whaling.
Soon, they will require all drivers to wear a face covering, and Uber is working toward developing technology that would recognize if the driver is wearing a mask or covering while behind the wheel.