With the coronavirus outbreak causing rider numbers to plummet for services like Lyft and Uber, operators are looking for ideas to keep their drivers working in ways that will also benefit the community in these challenging times.
Lyft, for example, recently revealed an initiative that will see some of its drivers delivering medical supplies and meals to people affected by shelter-in-place orders enacted as part of measures to slow the spread of the virus, formally known as COVID-19.
And now the same company is encouraging its drivers to consider offering their services to Amazon during the crisis, taking up roles that include deliveries or picking orders at one the online shopping giant’s many warehouses.
The partnership between Lyft and Amazon means drivers can start within seven days of applying, with no résumé or previous work experience required. Pay starts at $17 an hour, which includes an extra $2 an hour through April. Drivers were told about the initiative by an email sent in the last few days.
Lyft is thought to have around 1.4 million drivers on its books, but the pandemic has left many with a dwindling number of rides, hammering their income. Depending on a driver’s location, the Amazon partnership could offer a lifeline until the worst of the pandemic passes and life returns to normal in U.S. cities.
In mid-March, Amazon announced plans to take on more than 100,000 new workers for its warehouses and delivery network in the U.S. in a bid to meet the surge in demand caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The move comes amid reports of some of its warehouse workers testing positive for the virus, a situation that, if it worsens, could put Amazon’s massive and finely tuned shipping operation under great pressure — at a time when customers need it most.
Lyft drivers are still receiving ride requests, though nowhere near as many as usual. In areas locked down, most rides currently include getting people to grocery stores and pharmacies, or medical professionals to their place of work, as well as caretakers to family members in need.
Ridesharing rival Uber, for its part, has told its drivers to consider switching to its Uber Eats meal delivery service while rider numbers remain low.
Both companies have suspended their carpool options to try to reduce contact between people and slow the spread of the virus.
We’ve reached out to Lyft for more information on its latest move encouraging its drivers to assist Amazon and will update this piece when we hear back.