Companies

Uber sees ‘green shoots’ as services resume in more than 70 cities

K R Srivats New Delhi | Updated on June 23, 2020 Published on June 23, 2020

Prabhjeet Singh, Head of Cities, Uber India and South Asia   -  Emmanual Yogini

Difficult to predict when ‘business as usual’ situation will return, says Prabhjeet Singh, Head of Cities

Ride-hailing major Uber sees “green shoots” of recovery in its Indian business operations, although it is “far away” from pre-Covid-19 levels, a top official said.

“Today, we are back live and resumed operations in more than 70 cities, all of which we were operational in before Covid-19. The only exception is in cases where there are local guidelines which are issued for complete lockdown like Chennai and we are complying with that. Other than that we have resumed across the country,” Prabhjeet Singh, Head of Cities, Uber India and South Asia, told BusinessLine.

It will take time for business to recover, but Uber is encouraged to see the steady recovery in the Indian market, he said. “Green shoots are very encouraging. Cities which have been opened and where we have opened operations are seeing much higher quantum of recovery which gives us more confidence that more customers and users will step out in the next few weeks and we will begin to see higher recovery,” Singh said.

It may be recalled that Uber had since March 25 in the wake of Covid-induced lockdown suspended its operations in compliance with the directives of the government. Only specialised services such as UberMedic, Uber Essentials and Uber Connect were deployed during the period of lockdown and many of them continue to serve till this date.

Singh highlighted that people who were using public transits are now migrating to Uber services and there is also a healthy recovery in the number of driver partners who have restarted using the Uber platform. However, Uber is yet to see recovery in certain use cases such as airports, corporate travel and travel for leisure. They are far more muted given that air travel is restricted and given that corporate travel has not picked up to pre-Covid level. “Those segments will take longer,” he said.

Stating that it would be difficult to predict as to when ‘Business As Usual’ situation will return, Singh however noted that as economic activity recovers and new normal gets established, mobility will be one of the most critical categories that will bounce back fast. “Travel will be one of the first primary needs. We are confident that business will recover as core economic activity begins to recover. It’s very difficult to say what that percentage and timelines would be,” he said.

UberMedic

Till date, Uber has completed 2.35 lakh rides — at no cost to users — under its UberMedic service, which was launched in March-end to help transport healthcare workers and give hospitals the flexibility to provide optimal healthcare during Covid-19 induced lockdown.

Singh said that Uber has funded these trips with an outlay of ₹4 crore. “Almost 65,000 of these trips were through NHA. We are committed to do 1 lakh trips through NHA. We are humbled by the impact that UberMedic has created” he said.

New opportunities

Singh said that Uber would continue to evaluate new opportunities and how it should respond to changing business and driver behaviour.

“Covid-19 is an evolving situation. We are focussed on learning as the situation evolves. We are very clear that under mobility as a service, Uber role will be all the more important in context of post Covid-19 world. We are gearing to respond to that in multiple ways. We are going to look at within mobility, given the changing consumer behaviour are there specific opportunities where Uber can play bigger role. Can we extend it to unorganised sector? We believe our technology and service will become even more relevant in post Covid world. (for instance ‘hourly rentals’ service),” he said.

Published on June 23, 2020
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