Coronavirus impact on rideshare, delivery apps

Rideshare app drivers are hearing more and more from customers about wanting to avoid using public transit amid new coronavirus concerns.

Some rideshare and food-delivery app companies are already feeling the effects of such concerns surrounding COVID-19, like Lyft, which recorded its largest weekly revenue ever and highest volume of rides last week.

"Lyft reported their highest week of rides/revenue ever," Harry Campbell, Founder at popular rideshare blog and podcast The Rideshare Guy, told FOX Business on Thursday. "I've talked to drivers and haven't noticed a huge boom in business but they have definitely heard from passengers who are opting for Uber and Lyft over higher-density modes like public transit."

Passengers find their rides at the Ride Share point as they exit Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix.t. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Neither Uber nor Lyft responded to an inquiry about how the virus was affecting business.

Campbell said grocery store delivery app InstaCart is also experiencing a "big boom" right now in what is likely a correlation with people who are "in the prepping phase and stocking up on supplies in case things take a turn."

Other grocery delivery apps like eMeals have seen a surge in business. Orders submitted to eMeals and other apps, such as Amazon, Instacart and Walmart, had a week-over-week increase of 76 percent.


EMeals grocery orders increased 17-23 percent on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this week, including week-over-week increases in the following purchases: chicken noodle soup (37 percent), hand sanitizer (65 percent), disinfecting wipes (353 percent), Lysol-brand products (391 percent), Clorox-brand products (22 percent), Ibuprofen (236 percent), and flu and cold medications (197 percent).

Close up of unrecognizable woman giving money to delivering person. / iStock

Campbell recently shared a Rideshare Guy team notice sent to its readers and listeners that suggest another alternative to how the virus is impacting digital businesses.


Uber mentioned how coronavirus could negatively affect its business in a 8-K filing published March 2.

"Our number of platform users may decline materially or fluctuate as a result of many factors, including ... a pandemic or an outbreak of disease or similar public health concern, such as the recent coronavirus outbreak, or fear of such an event," the filing said.

A Lyft spokesperson said "there is no indication of a unique risk to members of the Lyft community" in a statement to NBC News.

A Didi (Chinese alternative to Uber) driver wears a mask while driving on February 15, 2020, in Beijing, China. (Photo by Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images)

The two popular rideshare apps have also issued health and safety precautions to drivers on its website such as washing hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer when a sink is unavailable, avoiding contact with others if sick, cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue or elbow, disinfect car surfaces and call a health care professional after feeling symptoms.

Delivery app drivers, however, actually experience less contact with other people so as long as hands don't meet upon the physical delivery. They aren't sharing a confined space with potential virus carriers like rideshare workers are, and some delivery workers are opting to leave food at a customer's doorstep, Campbell said in the notice to his readers.

"Some drivers have told me they're already skipping airport trips for now," his post reads, adding that others "have even said they'll go as far as kicking out a passenger who appears to be sick."