Mumbai News

Amidst Covid-19 lockdown, a Mumbai-based startup is providing emergency rides in the city – Economic Times

As everything and everyone went off the roads, the coronavirus pandemic brought life to a standstill. However, the need for transport, especially cabs and taxis during an emergency is also being acutely felt as ride-hailing services temporarily shut down.

Aiming to help those in need such as healthcare professionals and essential service providers, Mumbai-based fleet management firm Everest Fleet is offering rides to essential service providers, frontline helpers, and medical patients, so they can navigate safely through Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane.

“Since the lockdown was introduced and with Ola & Uber suspended operations, we started receiving several calls from our references for the requirement of transport services for going to the hospital, banks etc,” Siddharth Ladsariya, co-founder, Everest Fleet told ET Digital.

This is when the firm decided to start the services for those in need. The firm started the service during lockdown through WhatsApp broadcasts to family and friends. The broadcasts worked like a charm and the company received a whopping 1200 requests. Ladsariya added that they started with five cars and after witnessing the successful rides, more and more drivers are signing up daily for the purpose.

The services can come as a boon to many, especially people who have relatives and friends in hospitals and are unable to visit due to the lockdown. To avail the services, passengers will be required to provide valid documents to prove that their travel is essential, as specified by the government guidelines. These documents include identity cards and authorization letters.

“Due to the massive demand, booking should be made at least 12 hours prior. During the lockdown, we are receiving over 50 requests per day and it’s increasing daily with more awareness about this service in Mumbai,” he mentioned.

When asked about safety measures, Ladsariya assured that they have a team of doctors who have volunteered to track and guide the drivers. The drivers have been trained in hygiene and safety standards for every ride. Each driver will be equipped with masks, sanitizers, cling wraps and gloves.

Other safety measures include allowing only two passengers per car in order to maintain a safe distance. Further, the drivers are checked on to make sure the car is cleaned after every ride.

“At this juncture, we have started this service only for first responders such as doctors, paramedics, nurses, pharmacy owners and for patients and essential service providers,” he said.

Siddharth Ladsariya, co-founder, Everest Fleet.

Everest Fleet’s initiative has helped many doctors to commute home to hospitals. Even the bank staff in Mumbai had been able to avail this service for their office commute. “We have even had the opportunity to serve a pregnant lady on her travel to and fro from a hospital,” he said.

The firm’s emergency services are free for all BPL (Below Poverty Line) citizens. Meanwhile, it will cost Rs 500 per ride for regular citizens and Rs 250 per ride for government officials and public hospital staff.

Ladsariya mentioned that while the idea was fresh in their minds, they weren’t sure how to go about it and how to get the relevant permissions.

“With the imposition of lockdown and having no knowledge or connections on how we can get permission to provide this essential transport service, we had the challenge of getting relevant permissions as soon as possible,” he explained.

While finding the right authority was difficult and definitely took some time, Ladsariya said that once they did, the support from the authorities was commendable.

Everest Fleet is now reaching out to more hospitals, banks, and government institutions offering commuting assistance for the staff who come under essential services and continue to work during the lockdown.

Launched in 2016, Everest Fleet currently manages 1200 taxis enlisted with Uber and Ola. While it operates in Mumbai and Bengaluru, the emergency service is only available for Mumbai right now.