ACs switched off, cab drivers, passengers feel pandemic heat

Operators’ decision aimed at checking spread of infection

ACs switched off, cab drivers, passengers feel pandemic heat

As a precautionary measure, online cab operators had decided to switch off the air conditioner in cabs while ferrying passengers.

Deepankar Sharda

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27

If a dent in business due to the Covid-19 pandemic was not enough, cab drivers are now facing a problem in dealing with customers asking for air-conditioned rides in this soaring temperature.

As a precautionary measure, online cab operators had decided to switch off the air conditioner in cabs while ferrying passengers.

However, with the temperature soaring in the city, cab drivers are facing a tough time in making passengers understand the decision.

The decision to drop AC ride was taken after reports suggested the possibility or high risk of virus transmission inside cars owing to limited area and use by different people.

“We have to make people understand about this step. Some drivers have pasted a written statement on the front seat as information for passengers. Our business was already affected due to the lockdown. Since we have started the business again, we have been struggling to tell people about all these basic things,” said Lakhwant Singh, a cab driver with an online company.

“To avoid recirculation of air, it has been decided to switch off the AC. There are some people who fight over it. We ask them to roll down the windows of the car, but the soaring temperature is a concern,” said Mukul Parikh, another cab driver.

“People ask us to produce the government notification (guidelines) in this regard. They have started giving us low ratings,” he said.

The maximum temperature in the city is hovering over the 40°C mark.

“There are no strict advisories, but no one wants to take a risk. Even if one sneezes inside an air-conditioned room, particles remain there for at least 10 minutes. In case of cars, the duration may vary owing to the compact cabins. Cars are used by several people, so we have to be extra cautious these days,” said Manoj, another driver.

Last month, the Indian Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioner Engineers had issued an advisory that the temperature of the ACs run at home should be between 24°C and 30°C. However, there is no clarity on AC cabs.

“It wasn’t a pleasing experience to ride a cab without the AC on but one has no option these days. Even drivers are also working in similar conditions. Introducing cabin partition is a good idea, but it should be cleaned after every ride,” said Anoop Kapoor, an IT professional.

There is no clarity on ac cabs yet

Last month, the Indian Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioner Engineers had issued an advisory that the temperature of the ACs run at home should be between 24°C and 30°C. However, there is no clarity on AC cabs.

Disinfect all seats after each ride

To sanitise the vehicles, drivers have been asked to wash cabs every second day of usage and also spray disinfectant on all seats after every ride. Some drivers carry face mask to provide it to passengers, while many have made temporary partitions using plastic sheets.

600 staffers sacked

Uber laid off 600 employees in India on Tuesday. Last week, its domestic rival Ola had trimmed its workforce too. Ola had slashed 1,400 jobs or 25 per cent of its workforce, as its revenue fell 95 per cent in two months, according to reports.

Tough ride

Dhristi, a passenger, said, “One can imagine riding a cab without an AC in this soaring temperature. The authorities should come up with an authentic proof for not allowing switching on the AC in such a hot weather.”

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