Erica Biegen
Lindsay Cates Lindsay Cates
Senior Manager, Communications and Strategy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


November 25, 2020


Amid the coronavirus pandemic, gig economy companies have become an essential part of many Americans’ daily lives – and an economic lifeline for many others. Although Uber and Lyft have seen ridership drop during COVID-19, that hasn’t stopped the companies from stepping up during the pandemic.

At the start of the pandemic, both companies were quick to give meals and rides to frontline workers and donate funds to those in need. And perhaps most importantly, ridesharing companies are providing vital earnings opportunities to Americans who have lost hours or jobs due to the economic slowdown.

Read on to learn more about how Lyft and Uber are prioritizing safety, utilizing their extensive driver networks, and launching innovative programs to support their communities.

Read more from the Business is... series for Other ways the business community is stepping up in times of need.

Donating and Transporting Critical Supplies and Meals

To serve as a vital link in communities, Lyft launched food delivery programs in 10 cities, where drivers pick up meals from distribution centers and deliver them to individuals in need, including seniors and low-income families whose children usually rely on free or reduced fare lunch but are currently out of school. Since the start of COVID-19, Lyft, along with nonprofit and government partners, has delivered over 2 million meals for free.

Uber pledged 10 million free rides and deliveriesto healthcare workers, seniors, and people in need. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Uber Freight has carried over 1 billion pounds of emergency relief equipment and has helped in the distribution of PPE to drivers.

UberEats Image

Providing Work

In April, Uber launched Work Hub to connect drivers to other positions while ride requests are slower. Drivers can start working for Uber Eats to deliver food, Uber Freight to drive trucks and move emergency equipment, or take an opportunity through Uber Works, which connects people to shift work jobs in food production, warehouses, and customer service. Work Hub also includes opportunities at other companies in need of workers like Domino’s, Shipt, and CareGuide.

Getting People Around

In early April, the LyftUp Critical Workforce Program was launched to provide first responders, healthcare, transit, and certain non-profit workers with free bike and scooter rides as they serve the public on the frontlines. In New York City, Lyft partnered with Citi and Mastercard to fund free annual Citi Bike®️ memberships for 27,000 critical workers to help them get to work safely during the pandemic – 789,000 trips have been taken by these riders since April. Further, monthly bikeshare memberships were offered to critical workers at no charge in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Portland. Free 30-minute scooter rides were also available for critical workers in Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., San Diego, and Santa Monica.

Lyft has also engineered several different options for getting essential workers where they need to be. In July, Lyft launched LyftPass, a customizable ride-sharing program for employers that provides a way for organizations to pay for the Lyft rides of anyone from essential workers to guests. So far in 2020, Lyft has helped over 200,000 employees obtain employer sponsored rides.

Uber’s employee commuter program also offers employers an opportunity to create customizable Uber programs that meet the transportation needs of their employees. The initiative gives companies the ability to cover anything from the cost of a portion of the Uber ride to a ride for an employee working late and includes a COVID-19 safety checklist that all drivers and riders must follow.

Helping Restaurants

Uber Eats waived the delivery fee for more than 100,000 restaurants across U.S. and Canada, is encouraging non-contact delivery, and its customers can now donate to their favorite restaurants through the app when they order food.

Further, Uber partnered with the National Restaurant Association to create the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which will give grants to restaurant industry employees who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Putting Safety First

Both Uber and Lyft have adapted the ridesharing experience to reflect the realities of COVID-19 and have aimed to create a healthy and safe experience for all users. Face coverings are required for riders and drivers on both apps, and both companies have provided cleaning supplies to drivers.

Uber allocated about $50 million in personal protective equipment for drivers and those that deliver food, distributing roughly 30 million masks and 800,000 packages of disinfectant products. Through a partnership with Clorox, 600,000 containers of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes were distributed to drivers in Atlanta, New York City, and Chicago so they could create a clean riding experience.

Lyft has provided drivers with face masks and cleaning supplies at no cost to them, as well as a safety kit consisting of a reusable cloth face covering, sanitizer, and disinfectant to their most active drivers. Plus, the company supplied tens of thousands of vehicle partitions to frequent drivers to give riders and drivers extra peace of mind.

Through a partnership with One Medical, Lyft connects drivers to One Medical’s Essential Workers program, allowing them to access COVID-19 testing and other health services. Lyft is also providing funds to any driver diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under quarantine.

More information on Lyft’s latest efforts to fight COVID-19 is here, and more on Uber’s commitment to communities is here.

About the authors

Erica Biegen

Lindsay Cates

Lindsay Cates

Lindsay is a senior manager on the communications and strategy team. She previously worked as a writer and editor at U.S. News and World Report.

Read more