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BENGALURU : As offices reopen with the gradual lifting of travel curbs and demand increases, urban mobility startups are reworking their business models, and introducing new features to prepare for a world wherein all must live with the coronavirus. However, pre-covid demand will take several months to return since workplaces are operating at minimal strength.

Sriram Kannan, co-founder of employee transport management startup Routematic said that in May, it saw demand from financial services and media firms as lockdown rules were relaxed in many states.

Offices that have reopened are prioritizing employee safety and productivity, and want to have a larger role in minimizing the risk of infection among commuting staff.

Vinay Prakash, manager, public policy at carpooling app QuickRide said it is working with private offices and IT parks to relaunch carpooling options, while limiting the number of passengers per trip.

“Irrespective of how one travels to work, there is a certain level of risk they are exposed to, and this is highest on public transport. Hence, we are mandating our users to carpool with people they are already in contact with, such as colleagues or the same residential building," he said.

Routematic’s clients can now directly control the number of employees per trip. The startup, which used to facilitate 50,000-60,000 trips per day before the lockdown, is now doing 1,000-1,500 trips per day.

“Because there is a lot of dynamic routing that happens in our service, especially between security checks at office gates, and drop-off points, employers can now intervene and limit the number of people their employees are exposed to," said Kannan.

QuickRide is also limiting the number of users per trip, apart from building a network of private vehicle owners willing to carpool. “We are actively trying to minimize the risk of exposure by building a closed-loop of known contacts while carpooling. Even if there is an infection, it would be easier to contact-trace," said Prakash.

Bike-sharing startup Bounce has seen demand from financial services firms and IT parks to procure vehicles in bulk.

“Earlier, our B2B tie-ups for bike rentals were with delivery startups, but now this is expected to change as more commuters are expected to use private modes of transport to go to work…We are providing corporates with bikes on lease for three-six months, said Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO, Bounce.

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