Rideshare alive and well despite fewer drivers, social distancing precautions

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Businesses are expecting to open up across Kansas as the state moves into Phase Two of the economic recovery plan.

Passengers accustomed to using rideshare apps in the days preceding stay-at-home orders may be waiting longer than they remember for a ride.

“It’s noticeable that a lot of drivers have stopped temporarily, “said Anthony Garner, a part-time driver for Uber. “Our drive times to get passengers have increased. So, we know that we’re the closest one to them even if they are 15 to 20 minutes away.”

Uber cut 3,000 jobs at the end of March, adding up to a quarter of its workforce cut since January. The ride business fell 80% in April compared to 2019.

Similarly, Uber’s market rival Lyft laid off 17% of its workforce in April because of dropping demand.

Rideshare drivers that once taxied in abundance at airports and downtown posts have been scarce since demand declined amid pandemic concerns.

A report released Friday afternoon by Wichita Eisenhower National Airport said April traffic decreased 95% compared to April 2019. The monthly passenger total was just over 7,000 compared to 136,00.

The lack of air travelers, who make up a good share of rideshare requests, is an additional hit to remaining drivers.

Some drivers that have stuck with it have adapted, donning masks, wiping down doors and interiors, and providing hand sanitizer.

Passengers who have relied on the service before mostly say their feelings haven’t changed.

“I do use them. I feel very comfortable with them,” Roy Koehn told KSN. “When I travel, sometimes I have to move a truck, and then I have to get an uber to take me to a rental car service to pick up a vehicle.

Wearing masks and sitting in the backseat, a protocol issued by Uber, hasn’t been a significant deterrent either.

“I would say about 50-percent of my customers are wearing masks of their own,” said Garner. “A few ask if they can have the ones that I have.”

“I scheduled an Uber to take me to the airport this morning,” said Elizabeth Saltigerald, traveling from Tampa to Wichita. “The whole idea of wearing a mask is so you can be in the six feet.”

“It’s just different all over the city. There’s not as much entertainment,” said Garner. “But people still need the service, and there’s a lot of us out there willing to provide that.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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