To comply with the restrictive guidelines issued by the government to contain the spread of the covid-19 pandemic, Ola and Uber suspended their services in March. The Government limited the movement of public and issued a lockdown, restricting people to stay at home, defying the whole purpose of these cab services. However, both cab aggregators have resumed their operations with emergency based services. These services are resumed only in select cities for now and will allow riders to book a ride to the hospital in case of an emergency.
The lockdown disabled people to move freely and restricted all the means of public transportation too. People who needed immediate medical assistance and didn’t have any personal vehicle were finding it hard to make it to the hospital. Keeping the same in mind, Ola collaborated with the Haryana government first to provide convenient, reliable and safe transport to riders who need to access a hospital for medical purposes. These services are enabled for non-COVID cases and for the ones which do not require an ambulance. They have come up with a fleet of dedicated cars that are equipped with masks and sanitizers and will be operated by specially-trained drivers.
Anand Subramanian, Spokesperson and Head of Communications, Ola, said, “Trips to hospitals for medical urgencies are unavoidable, even in the current times. With Ola Emergency, we are able to facilitate trips to and from hospitals across the city through the Ola app. We are grateful to the Haryana Government for the opportunity to collaborate in serving the citizens. With over 100+ Hospitals in the city mapped, ‘Ola Emergency’ will be available 24×7 and will provide citizens with a reliable, convenient and safe transport solution for medical trips that do not require an ambulance.”
Ola is calling this service “Ola Emergency” and has already started operating in Gurugram, Bengaluru, Vizag, Bhubaneshwar, Nashik and Varanasi. They are planning to launch this service in other major cities soon.
When Ola launched this service, how could its arch-rival Uber stay behind? They also came up with ‘Uber Essentials’ that will facilitate essential travel for residents of Mumbai to start with. Uber too, has taken required permission from the authorities to operate amidst the lockdown and have been issued curfew passes by local law enforcement authorities to ensure seamless movement to medical facilities. Prabhjeet Singh, Director-Operations and Head of Cities, Uber India & South Asia, says, “In conformity with government guidelines, we urge people to stay safe and discourage non-essential travel. Through Uber Essential, we are selectively offering rides for essential services to cater to crucial medical travel requirements in Mumbai. Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we are leveraging our technology and network of driver-partners to enable citizens to access essential medical services, while simultaneously also helping authorities contain the spread of COVID-19. In the coming days, Uber plans to extend this service to additional cities across India.”