Have you tried getting a Uber or Bolt lately? Chances are you may have had a hard time with them.
With the pandemic and lockdown slowly abating, restaurants have opened, and new regulations allow people to organize various social events.
This also means that there’s an increase of people who need to be transported around the city. That benefits both traditional and alternative taxi services, such as Bolt or Uber.
The coronavirus has, however, significantly rattled even this market, and the taxi services are plagued with a deficiency of drivers.
Some left for another profession, and closed borders made moving from countries outside of the EU to work here much more complicated. People from third world countries that worked in the evenings are sorely missed by alternative taxi services.
Customers thus noted longer waiting times and higher prices, which can even be twice or thrice as high as original costs. This is especially prevalent now that people are returning home in large clusters after the end of Euro football matches.
“In 2020, many drivers stopped driving because they couldn’t count on getting enough trips to make it worth their time,” Dennis Cinelli, Uber’s vice president for mobility in the US and Canada, wrote in a blog post. “In 2021, there are more riders requesting trips than there are drivers available to give them—making it a great time to be a driver.”
Uber claims that the demand is “coming back,” though how much we won’t know until the company reports its first earnings report for 2021. It seems logical that as vaccination rates continue to go up, more people will start using Uber and Bolt again.
But that will depend on many factors, including offices reopening, leisure activities returning, business travel rebounding, and people starting to return to their daily routines.
Last year, both companies were focused on reducing costs, and often that meant actively constraining its supply of drivers.
With wait times increasing, the companies will now have to reverse course and spend money to encourage drivers to come back to the app.