What it's been like as a rideshare driver throughout the pandemic

Dec 22 2020, 11:43 pm

The extent to which the pandemic has reshaped working life is immeasurable — from essential workers navigating public spaces, to office workers operating from makeshift home offices, to healthcare workers managing the frontlines.

Amid the unprecedented challenges, rideshare drivers have found themselves in the unique position of balancing personal (and passenger) safety with providing a vital service. Throughout the last 10 months, drivers have continued to help communities stay mobile and connect with essential services and goods.

Popular transportation networking company, Lyft, has taken this time to prioritize social outreach, working to care for drivers and implement initiatives to support them — and the community — throughout the crisis. They’ve also partnered with Herschel Supply to say thank you to members of the driver community.

Curious to get a first-hand account, we caught up with local driver, Jimmy, to get the scoop on what it’s been like to be in the driver’s seat these past months.


Above all, Jimmy describes having to handle riders’ fluctuating emotions and perceptions of what was going on at different stages of the pandemic — ranging from fear in the beginning to growing ease in the summer months.

“I do everything I can to keep myself and riders comfortable,” he says.

As restrictions extended and Jimmy decided whether or not to continue driving, he says his restless energy kept beckoning him to the roads. “I have a hard time just sitting at home. I like to drive!”

A few things haven’t changed, though. On any ordinary day, he shares with us that he delights in giving his riders music recommendations. “The minute I’m approaching, I like to guess what music the rider will like. It’s fun to give music recommendations,” says Jimmy.

Lyft’s charity partnerships have filled him with an added sense that he’s fulfilling an important duty and uplifting those in need. On this topic, he shares, “I like telling people what Lyft is about, and how it supports the community.” 

When the crisis first began, the company immediately activated LyftUp — an initiative offering access to transportation to those who need it most.

Now, LyftUp provides access to free ride credits to critical workers and vulnerable communities via its nationwide partnerships, which also allows them to create more driving opportunities for workers.

Working with local partners, like the United Way Lower Mainland Better at Home initiative, Covenant House Vancouver, Hospital Employees’ Union, Surrey Food Bank, and more, the platform has helped volunteers, non-emergency patients in need of (non-COVID related) treatments, families, seniors, and essential workers get to where they need to be.

“I’ve also enjoyed being able to take healthcare workers home. I understand they’ve been working all day or night and I like the feeling of being able to get them home comfortably. It makes me feel good to take care of someone who spends their whole life taking care of other people,” says Jimmy.

To spread some extra cheer this year, Lyft has partnered with Herschel Supply to show drivers some love. In an effort to celebrate drivers for all they’ve done, the companies are giving out Herschel Supply masks, hip packs, beanies, and AG hand sanitizer as gifts to select drivers across Canada.

Jimmy was one of the drivers who received the gift. “It was a nice surprise and it made me feel good,” he says.

For all those vying for the secret to getting a pristine, 5-star rating, according to Jimmy, it’s all in the small things.

“It’s the little things: say hello and ask how we’re doing. Greetings are important and appreciated, and conversation is nice. It’s important to show respect for the car and for me,” he shares.

This spring, when the pandemic began, Lyft ramped up efforts to protect riders and drivers — including establishing safety standards that include a slew of policies and commitments to address current public health needs. Throughout the pandemic, Lyft also held pit stops for drivers to pick up masks, gloves, and sanitizer.

As always, the company is continuing to look for ways to support drivers and riders, persisting when it comes to unlocking access to essential services during this time of uncertainty.

These are all things you can feel good about when getting around in a Lyft over the holidays. And if that doesn’t cut it, you can always check out Herschel Supply’s gift guide to see what kind of swag you might want to give (or receive) this holiday season.

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