Share The Ride, Not The Virus

Forbes India|July 17, 2020

Share The Ride, Not The Virus
As the pandemic influences what commuters want, ride-sharing startups are innovating with products and services

The Covid-19 outbreak, and the consequent need for maintaining hygiene and social distancing norms, is expected to influence the way people commute. The changes that were taking place in the mobility sector—with the emergence of ride-hailing services for two- and four-wheelers—could therefore witness an acceleration.

In India, most people rely on public transport, and that is not expected change in a hurry. But what could happen is a shift to a combination of public transport and shared mobility, with ride-hailing ventures, be it for scooters or taxis, ramping up new and innovative models to demonstrate that their services are safe and affordable.

“The world has been well on its way to a transport system that is hybrid [part public transport and part shared], electric and data-driven. Covid-19 has only increased the pace of this transformation process,” says Vivekananda HR, co-founder of Bounce, a scooter rental company. “There is a strong reason to believe that owned-vehicle commute will dwindle within the foreseeable future. At the same time, the very definition of ownership will transform, as intra-city mobility will evolve as a service”. He gives the example of China, which, after the lifting of lockdowns, has seen a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour away from public transport and towards private vehicles and docked or dock-less shared motorcycles and bicycles; shared-motorcycle rides have gone up by 150 percent.

From an India point of view, there is a distinct possibility that we will be ahead of the global curve in this transformation as currently only 18 percent of Indians own any form of fuel-based vehicle. India saw this where mobile telephony was concerned, as vast parts of the country skipped the landline stage and directly jumped to mobile phones. However, greater focus on a holistic commuter system will be needed that can cater to different geographies and regions as per local needs, Vivekananda adds.

“We wanted to understand what urban commuters wanted post the lockdown,” says Amit Gupta, co-founder of Yulu. “So, we did a survey that clearly underlined that safety remains the topmost priority for everyone who is commuting.” Bengaluru-based Yulu is trying to popularise electric scooter based shared mobility for first-mile and last-mile commutes.


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July 17, 2020