Many Uber drivers in Bengaluru claim at least 50% drop in bookings as coronavirus keeps people off roads

  • "My bookings are down to 10 today, nearly half," Girish, who drives an Uber cab, told Business Insider.

  • The fear of coronavirus seemed to have cleared out the streets; schools have been ordered shut, hundreds of office goers have chosen to work from home to avoid any possibility of exposure to COVID-19.
How long does it take at 7:50 pm on a weekday to reach from Koramangala to Halasuru via MG Road? Locals in Bengaluru seemed quite shocked when I said "less than 30 mins" because that's all it took.

The fear of coronavirus seemed to have cleared out the streets⁠— though they were nowhere close to empty⁠, just a lot less congested— in India's tech capital infamous for its traffic. But there's a downside to it particularly for the drivers of online cab services like Ola and Uber.

"My bookings are down to 10 today, nearly half," Girish, who drives an Uber cab, told Business Insider. His monthly income (post all expenses like fuel, maintenance and monthly instalment for the car) was between ₹20,000 and ₹25,000 earlier, barely enough to run a family and pay for the children's education in an Indian metropolis. Now, due to the pandemic, he will earn even lesser.

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Schools have been ordered shut, hundreds of office goers have chosen to work from home to avoid any possibility of exposure to COVID-19, a killer virus that has already killed at least 4,600 people around the world and is spreading fast. 5 cases of coronavirus infection, and one death, have been reported in Bengaluru, the most in any Indian city.

Many others driving cabs in Bengaluru seemed to share Girish's anxiety. "Ayyo! this coronavirus," exclaimed Danappa who had been waiting for nearly 6 hours between 2 bookings.

Interestingly, Danappa, by his own account, a ₹1,000 incentive had accrued just a few days ago for completing 62 trips in 2 days. He had driven both day and night to seize the opportunity for extra bucks. He is ready to pull-off more all-nighters but fears it may not be enough.

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Looking forward to the weekend

There seemed to be an interesting turn in views about the pub hoppers though. Many cab and auto rickshaw drivers in Bengaluru often tend to be critical of those, particularly women, leaving from bars at midnight. "It is not good that ladies drink and smoke but now what can we say," said one of the drivers (name withheld).

However, as at least two drivers quipped, they are now hoping that people will step out for a few drinks this weekend and take a cab home. That's their only hope to make up for lost earnings during the week.

SEE ALSO: coronavirus: Latest News, Articles on coronavirus | Business Insider India
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