Big surge in demand for Isolated Cars from ride-hailing company

Ride-hailing app Bolt is adding 4 000 more ‘Isolated Cars’ to its South African fleet due to heavy demand from workers who don’t want to use traditional public transport during the pandemic.

The company, formerly known as Taxify, is a European-based ride-hailing app similar to Uber.

The Bolt Isolated Car was launched in Johannesburg during March 2020, with an initial 500 vehicles. The 4 000 new cars have been added to the local fleet from June in response to a surge in demand.

Public transport a poor option for health workers

This increase is due to healthcare and essential services workers, and their employers, choosing to use specialist ride-hailing vehicles rather than public transport.

“Vehicles have a protective barrier installed between the front and back seats, providing a physical shield between the driver and their passenger,” said Gareth Taylor, country manager for Bolt in South Africa. “This limits the airflow between the drivers and riders inside the cars.”

The company said in a statement that it provides free sanitisation liquid refills at all its driver centres each day in an effort to ensure that drivers comply with sanitisation protocols. It is also mandatory for drivers and passengers to wear face masks.

Passengers must sanitise their hands on entering the vehicle and drivers are required to ventilate and sanitise the car between every trip.

Service expands to Cape Town and now Durban

After launching the Isolated Car concept in Johannesburg, Bolt then expanded it to Cape Town. Durban has now also been added to the list and Taylor says it the city with the highest demand for Isolated Cars.

“We anticipate that Bolt Isolated Cars are likely to be even more popular under Level 3 as COVID-19 lockdown conditions relax and more South Africans are able to return to work – many of them concerned about using public transport due to social distancing fears,” he observed.

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