In a bid to promote social distancing and contain the spread of COVID 19 in India, Ola said today that it has suspended its Ola Share riding booking option in which users could share rides with other users, as a more cost effective way to hail rides. “In our efforts to curb the spread of COVID- 19, we are temporarily suspending the ‘Ola Share’ category until further notice,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The company said that the decision is to enable tighter social distancing and is a part of its efforts to make sure that its customers are safe and sound. “The health and safety of our driver-partners and customers are of utmost importance and we have taken several steps in this regard to ensure the highest levels of hygiene are maintained in the vehicles on the platform. The temporary suspension of Ola Share services is an attempt to encourage social distancing for all cases of essential travel for citizens.”
Ola operates in multiple overseas markets like Australia, New Zealand and U.K. , but only offers the option to avail Ola Share in India, its home market. The suspension will stay in place until New Delhi deems social gathering safe again, which could be ways down the road.
Other ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft have announced similar restrictions in US. However, Uber, which operates in India as well, has not made any decisions on its version of Ola Share, known as Uber Pool, a service which still continues to operate in India by the time this article was written.
India has, for now, seen one of the most sophisticated responses to the coronavirus outbreak globally, with limited positive cases and a relatively low death toll. However, some experts suggest that low testing could be a reason to India low positive cases.
PM Narendra Modi has urged the country to follow ‘Janta Curfew’ coming Sunday, in which everyone has been advised to stay indoors from 7AM to 9PM. The country’s rail network will also remain shut for the entire day, in an unprecendented move to contain the spread of COVID-19 outbreak. Over 2400 trains will be affected by this, which has been billed by many, as one of the first of its kind shut downs in the history of world’s third largest railway network.