Ride share drivers who had their hopes set on business returning to normal in level 1 say the pick up was slower than expected.
Auckland-based Manoj Trivedi has been a full time ride share driver for more than three years.
Before the Covid-19 travel restrictions hit, Trivedi was making about $1680 a week, working close to 60 hours. In level 1 Trivedi said as there were fewer jobs around, he had reduced his hours to 45 a week which had also sliced his pre-Covid-19 earnings by half.
“Things have been improving day by day since level 2. There were lots of house parties, and then when restaurants opened we saw another small increase. For level 1 we expected things would get back to normal, but nothing’s changed drastically yet.”
Trivedi said about 70 per cent of his income was from Uber, 28 per cent was from Ola and the remainder was from Zoomy.
He said of the three in level 1 he had seen an unexpected increase in rides on Ola during the morning for work drop offs.
“Uber has partnerships with corporates and with many people working from home, in the morning there have been more Ola rides.”
But Trivedi said Uber still ruled the roost overall.
The first weekend of level 1 saw a spike for drivers with many Aucklanders heading to nightclubs, bars and the new Commercial Bay mall.
Trivedi said the return of sporting events, kicked off by the Super Rugby game on Saturday night was also encouraging for drivers.
“There’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to adjust our working patterns a bit,” Trivedi said.
Ola NZ country manager Brian Dewil said while the lockdown resulted in a 98 per cent decline in business.
“As soon as level 2 came in we saw a really big lift in demand and drivers logging on the weekend. We grew 50 per cent. Since then it’s been a consistent growth in the double digits week on week,” Dewil said.
Dewil said in level 1 rides were up a further 60 per cent on last week, with most trips being taken in the morning.
While there had been a surge in Ola drivers returning to the roads, there had not been a spike in new sign ups, Dewil said.
He said this could be a result of low confidence in the industry as ride share and taxi businesses having taken a big hit. However, the application process to get a P endorsement to be able to become an Ola driver also took up to 8 weeks.
Uber refused to reveal its data on how business was coping in level 1. Zoomy has been approached for comment.
Wellington Ola driver Vikramjit Singh Manku said things would not return to normal until international travel reopened.
Before level 4 Manku made about $1000 a week, working about 40 hours. More than half of this was made up of airport drop-offs and pick-ups.
“Weekdays are still dead. Before Covid-19 the early morning flights to guaranteed at least two or three rides to the airport.”
But Manku said for now he was focusing on the evening weekend rides after making about $300 on Friday and Saturday as social distancing rules lifted.
He said Ola was popular in the capital, and he preferred driving for the company as its commission rate was 18 per cent, compared to Uber’s which was 28 per cent.
After public backlash Uber revised the commission rates it charged businesses for Uber Eats but not for its drivers.
Both drivers applied for the wage subsidy scheme which they said helped them survive the lockdown lull.
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