The two companies are partnering to get people their shots with free rides.
The Uber and Lyft ride-sharing companies took a huge hit during the pandemic. People were driving 40% less and they were sharing rides even less than that. It seems no one wants to sit in a small vehicle with another person of questionable habits (if it was an autonomous Volvo XC90, which is something Uber is exploring, we wouldn't have these problems). But now, as we all are, they're trying to come back.
The companies are both spending millions of dollars to get their respective drivers Covid-19 vaccines and they're offering millions of free or discounted rides (in a car, as the helicopter drone rides aren't ready yet) to vaccination sites for people in underserved communities.
Uber US and Canada head of driver operations Carrol Chang told Reuters that there's currently a team at the office who's only job is to call drivers who left the platform to find out what it would take for them to return to the driving profession. Their main issues are predictably, safety and earnings. They're getting help from a partnership with Walgreens, and $250 million in extra pay. Walgreens has given out 240,000 codes to drivers in California, Illinois, Virginia, and New Jersey, letting them book an appointment to get the shot.
In New Orleans, Uber is providing 20,000 more rides to the city's vaccination sites. Public officials were so happy they asked if Uber could help with hurricane evacuations. However, the same officials noted that the partnership doesn't change their stance on the company's ongoing issues like driver pay and congestion.
It's the same in New Jersey. The mayor is working with the company to provide 12,000 rides, mainly to seniors, though the city has previously put regulations on the company.
"We've differed with Uber plenty in the past, but it doesn't mean that we're going to just differ on everything for the sake of disagreeing. Here, we have an overlapping interest and I'm happy to work with them," Fulop told Reuters.
Lyft's vaccine rides are being paid for by corporate sponsors including JPMorgan Chase, Anthem Inc., Target, and other private donations. Despite the rides being free, drivers will get their fare, which was important for another of its partners, charity United Way. Both orgs note that they are not collecting passenger data for the rides.
Regardless of how it gets done, the sooner everyone gets a vaccine that wants one the better. Then we can all get back to some semblance of normal.