How the Transportation Industry Can Move Forward Despite COVID-19 | Hacker Noon

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The COVID-19 crisis the world is undergoing right now, can be considered one of the biggest game-changers for many businesses and economies all around the globe. Some verticals like grocery delivery on demand have seen unprecedented growth during these times. Some industries that were projected to have a massive growth-rate – like the transportation industry – have slowed down drastically. Some other companies that were perched in obscurity – like Zoom – have suddenly shot up to prominence because of the ongoing crisis. 

To sum it all up, the COVID-19 has changed the world for good and this is evident in the fact that the world is getting used to the usage of the term ‘new normal’ – an oxymoron in itself. 

The Transportation Industry

It’s been just over a decade ever since Uber unveiled the on-demand cab booking business. It was conferred nothing short of a revolution, not just for the transportation industry but for the entire services industry at large. 

With an app that brings together a user profile along with GPS and a service that connects these users to service providers, it is now possible to provide any service to any person precisely at a time and place as they needed it. 

It became so much of a craze that players and aspiring entrepreneurs all around the world began to develop taxi apps that replicated the business model of Uber. However, to launch a taxi app post the COVID-19 crisis will not be the same as it was before. 

The Cab Industry After COVID-19

The ‘new normal’ has mandated a few changes to the taxi industry which will be aimed at reducing the possibilities of the pandemic affecting passengers and drivers. Although in the short run, it might cost the cab companies a lot of money, it is the only way to stay relevant and stay active in this extremely competitive market. 

The Dip in Growth Rate 

The taxi on-demand industry was expected to be one of the fastest-growing industries as projected until 2025. Things have not drastically changed for this domain. However, the year-on-year growth from 2020 to 2021 is projected to be at about 55.6% – 2% lower than what was projected earlier. The market is expected to reach $117.34 billion in 2021 and it is surely a massive growth from the $75.39 billion in 2020.

As much as factors like the need for personal mobility, urbanization, and the aversion to words car ownership contributed to the growth, factors like social distancing, personal hygiene, and the general inhibition towards sharing a publicly used space might pull down the growth rate marginally.

Ridesharing – the obvious fall and the expected rise

One of the segments to bear the biggest brunt of the Coronavirus crisis is the ridesharing segment. Ridesharing had started to gain immense patronage because of factors like reduced travel costs, less traffic congestion, and reduction of emissions and pollution. However, since the COVID-19 crisis imposes social distancing restrictions, the market share is expected to plummet down by about 50 to 60% in 2020.

In 2021, however, the ridesharing market is expected to take an upturn because the factors that contributed to the growth of ridesharing will gain precedence. Certain new strategies like partitions between the driver and the passengers and maybe even between passengers, equipping the vehicle with sanitizers, and installing machines that will measure body temperature might contribute to the elimination of threats and increase of instances of ridesharing in the future.

As a direct consequence, ridesharing might not be as economical as it used to be, but still, it will be more economic than taking a ride all on your own!

Cashless Payment Might Become the New Norm

Although a lot of cab services have been quite flexible and accommodating multiple payment methods, payments in cash were always given as an option. This was true especially in the case of caste-centric countries like India. However, after the COVID-19 onslaught, cash might become a payment instrument of the past.

In addition to totally eliminating cash as a mode of payment and sticking to digital, app-based payment methods, it might not be a thing of a surprise if cab services start to accept payments either in foreign currency or cryptocurrency.

The Era of Electric

The COVID-19 crisis did present the world with a lot of passive benefits. In addition to people starting to reconsider certain elements of their lifestyle, it has also heavily contributed to the world becoming a cleaner and greener place. Studies by Harvard have shown that pollution levels have a direct correlation with the susceptibility of a population with respect to the coronavirus.

Therefore, electric vehicles might become the order of the day in the near future. One of the biggest concerns for any electric vehicle is in terms of the range. Since most of the cabs commute within the city, electric vehicles could be an attractive alternative for internal combustion engine cabs, especially in cities marred with heavy traffic. The growth can be attributed to governments moving in favor of electric vehicles, the improving infrastructure, and the growing awareness about CO2 emission levels and global warming.

Although it might take time for electric vehicles to gain their foothold in places like India, it might not be surprising to see that a major chunk of European countries adopt this form of commute.

What Can You Learn From The Leaders?

Within a span of a little over 10 years, there have been a few established names in the ride-hailing industry from different corners of the globe. Each brand has taken upon itself to change the way it functions, so it can arrive at a fine balance between profit and protection both for customers and the drivers.

DiDi in China has built disinfection stations all across China especially for on-demand mobility vehicles. It has invested a staggering $14.3 billion in these safety measures and it also involves the installation of protective plastic sheets creating a safe space both for drivers and passengers.

Grab in Singapore has provided face masks and sanitizers to its drivers free of cost. It has, in an endeavor to comply with the social distancing norms, suspended its ridesharing services and bike taxi. This has happened even though Singapore has steered itself clear of being majorly impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

Lyft, Uber’s biggest competitor in the United States has temporarily suspended all its ridesharing services in all the markets irrespective of the number of COVID-19 cases in the area. It has purchased a stock of over 200,000 bottles of hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies, and they have been distributed to all of its drivers free of cost. Although it might not have suspended its scooter and bike taxi services, it has taken care to disinfect all the high contact surfaces on bikes and scooters at special depots for sanitization.

Ola runs parallel to Uber in India, both literally and figuratively. Ola has reduced its fares during the pandemic period and has also caused all its ridesharing services. Just like Lyft, it has also ensured the provision of sanitizers to its drivers free of cost.

Last but not the least, Uber, the Numero Uno name in ride-hailing, has partnered with films like Unilever to ensure a steady supply of disinfectants, hand sanitisers, and masks for drivers. It has reduced the fares during the pandemic.

Just like Lyft, Uber has also initiated a process for disinfecting all high contact surfaces on bikes and scooters. In addition to this, one of the biggest contributions by Uber in this time of crisis is the fact that it has developed a new ‘ World Cup’ application for drivers to find alternative jobs just in case they are not able to meet their revenue needs through Uber cabs alone.

Conclusion

It is hard to believe that a virus that cannot even be seen by the naked eye has been so powerful in changing the lifestyle and landscape of businesses. The good news is that the world of business and people have always been quite adaptive to any changes that they either bring about with a plan or that is imposed upon them.

The cab industry, although has been subject to unprecedented levels of alteration, will soon bounce back bigger, stronger, and more adapted to the new lifestyle that humans have period therefore if you intend to develop a taxi app, you will need to take into consideration all these factors. 

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