United Way of Central Maryland is one of the nationwide partnership locations for Ride United, which is an initiative designed to help overcome barriers to transportation, the organization said this month. This opens up connections to free Lyft rides to 211 Maryland United Way Helpline callers in Greater Baltimore who don’t have access to other forms of transportation.
Ride United launched in September 2019 with initial support from General Motors and Lyft. It leverages the strengths of local United Ways and the 211 Helpline network to meet transportation needs by providing free Lyft rides to eligible 211 callers.
“Each month, thousands of requests come through the 211 Maryland United Way Helpline,” Franklyn Baker, President and CEO of the United Way of Central Maryland, said in a statement. “Our team is able to connect them to the services they need, but callers can’t always access these services because of transportation restrictions, including lack of access to a vehicle or nearby transportation, or because they lack the funds for a taxi or rideshare. Thanks to Ride United, United Way of Central Maryland and the other United Way markets can now provide free rides to help people get where they need to go.”
United Way said 45% of people nationwide don’t have access to public transportation, while roughly 10.5 million people don’t have access to a vehicle. Now, Baltimore is among more than 25 local markets where 211 helplines are being used to schedule rides.
To be eligible for Lyft rides, callers must meet predetermined need requirements, and rides are provided for food access, employment, medical needs, and public benefits access. It is open to people living in in Baltimore city, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, and Howard County.
The local launch comes with an additional partnership, as well. An additional grant from the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center, totaling nearly $60,000, will provide Lyft rides in Baltimore city to individuals seeking treatment for an opioid use disorder at Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc. The rides help patients get to detox, and to help post-detox patients get to follow-up appointments.
General Motors also recently announced an additional $20,000 in grant funding to expand the 211 and Lyft partnership.
This is the latest recent example of Lyft being involved in an initiative to open up transportation access. In November 2019, the ridesharing company launched the Grocery Access Program in Baltimore, which is a six-month pilot program that provides residents in 16 neighborhoods of West and South Baltimore in the areas of Cherry Hill, Lakeland, Westport access to rides to grocery stores like Price Rite in Pigtown. The program runs through April 30th, and participating residents are eligible to receive eight rides for $2.50 each.
Lyft is also providing rides to job training and interviews through the Jobs Access Program, which launched in October 2019 with United Way as a partner.-30-
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