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Cab Aggregators doing their part amidst the pandemic

Updated: May 13, 2021

We don’t know about you, but this lockdown is driving us crazy! And it’s not even in an Uber or an Ola, because even they’re not plying! TBH, we miss our cab rides so much that we took this opportunity to rate our old cab rides! We recommend you finish your backlog too and, in the process, probably also learn about the cab aggregators’ covid-19 response:

It is of course visible to the naked eye that the cab aggregator business has come to a grilling halt. That means, their operations is down by more than 90%. However, like others have, this is exactly the time to innovate and keep hustling:

  • Ola cofounder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal has proposed to offer 500 Ola Cabs to the Karnataka government for Covid-19 pandemic-related work. Under this, Ola will provide its cab for healthcare staffers, transportation of medicine and other essential healthcare services for emergencies. Ola is also diverting its management capacity to ‘Ola Food’ to deliver essentials more effectively.

  • Uber has launched a new service called UberMedic to provide transportation support to the frontline healthcare providers. The facility will allow healthcare providers to book a cab to and from their homes, healthcare centres and other medical facilities. To ensure end to end safety, partnered hospitals will also provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to drivers.

Even the online grocers are now in talks with the ride-hailing platforms to help them resolve the capacity-crunch to deliver essential products on time. However, that’s where their opportunities hit the dead end.

Both the cab aggregators are however doing all that’s possible to make life a little less difficult for their driver partners. For example, Uber has started a ‘Uber Care Driver Fund’ to obtain crowdfunding to help their driver partners survive this rough phase.

Ola on the other hand has come up with a slew of measures to provide a helping hand to the drivers:

  • ‘Drive the Driver Fund’: in order to assure financial stability for driver-partners working with Ola, everyone is welcome to donate to this fund. To flag off the fund, Aggarwal has himself donated his entire year’s salary. Besides this, Ola Group and its employees have also crowdfunded ₹20Cr to help out the driver-partners. Ola has partnered with South Asian crowdfunding platform Milaap to action requests of donation to the Fund.

  • All eligible Ola driver-partners and their spouses have been covered by a floater sum of ₹30,000 under which they can receive a compensation of up to ₹1,000 per day for a maximum of 21 days from the date of a positive diagnosis for Covid-19.

  • Sahyog: for driver-partners with liquidity crunch, Ola is offering an interest free micro credit scheme.

  • The startup is also waiving lease rentals for drivers who operate vehicles owned by Ola. The driver partners are required to return their cabs to the nearest station and in return Ola is waiving monthly instalments. (Under the company’s leasing model, Ola charges a deposit and a daily rental amount between ₹700 & 1,150 beside the non-refundable one time charge of ₹4,000 and a refundable deposit of ₹21,000-31,000.

A usual ride with an Uber or an Ola along with a light conversation with the driver partner is likely to end with an audible frustration from the driver-side over the ‘partnership terms’. However, the ongoing act of benevolence by the cab aggregators will definitely help mend that and will reap benefit when the times are good again:

The strategy can be seen as a move to ensure that adding back capacity when the engine reignites is prompt and effective. The move also shows that even though the cab aggregators have always refused to treat the drivers as ‘employees’, with age, indeed they have also succumbed to the higher calling of the much needed employer ethics. As Stan Lee would’ve liked to put it, With great power, comes great responsibility! And we’re glad that the Unicorns recognize their responsibilities well.


This article is a part of the April'20 edition of our Startup Newsletter. Here's the complete publication:


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