Ever before coronavirus was declared a pandemic, authorities worldwide sprung into action for mitigating its effects. Similarly, businesses and startups both, small and large, have been working out ways to stay afloat. However, there are some services that will have to go dark for the greater good so that the probability of more people contracting the disease can be lowered. Keeping this in mind, the Germany-based ride-hailing app Free Now, which is the joint venture from BMW and Daimler has decided to temporarily suspend its carpooling service in three regions.
Free Now suspends its carpool service, Match
Since transmission rates of the novel COVID-19 pandemic are worryingly high, Free Now has announced shutting down its carpooling service Match. It will be unavailable temporarily in Hamburg, Warsaw and Dublin. However, the ride-hailing apps’ standard services are still operational and the company is taking appropriate steps to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
Commenting on the closure of its Match service, a Free Now spokesperson said, “The FREE NOW services remain available in all of our markets as we offer taxi services via e-hailing. Whilst we are seeing a clear decrease in demand in all of our markets, some passengers are still in need of taxis in order to get to work.” They add,” For example, in some markets, we are already in close collaboration with local health authorities. In Madrid, for example, we have dedicated taxis that are transporting medical supplies and staff to hospitals. We are currently in contact with local authorities so that we can roll this out internationally.”
Currently, Free Now operates in around 100 cities across Europe, with 14 million passengers and more than 100,000 drivers. In the UK, FREE NOW is available in London, Manchester, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Brighton, Reading, Oxford, Derby and Leicester.
Ensuring a safe commute
While the carpooling service by Free Now is temporarily suspended, as mentioned above, it is still running its standard services. This calls for high scrutiny in terms of hygiene and ensuring that passengers are safe. The company is taking steps to inform drivers and passengers about ride-hailing specific hygiene measures via the newsfeed in its app as well as a landing page and emails.
“We have given them (drivers and passengers) the official guidance and information on the virus. If drivers or passengers test positive for COVID-19, then we would temporarily suspend them from our service in accordance with quarantine guidelines in order to avoid any spread as much as possible. Last but not least, we are regularly updating our 2,000 employees globally and have reduced all business travel to only absolutely essential travel.” A Free Now spokesperson said.
Founded in 2009, with Europe’s CEO as Eckart Diepenhorst, the Germany company has in total scored €42.7 million funding so far.
Image credits: Free Now
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