MA – United Way Worldwide announced today that it is partnering with Lyft, the fastest growing rideshare company in the U.S., to provide limited free rides to people with specific non-emergency healthcare transportation, employment, and veterans’ needs. The program is now being piloted in 12 cities across the country, including some neighborhoods in Boston. Mass2-1-1 is a free, statewide service that connects people to essential services in their community, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by phone, text, and on the web.
What does this mean for residents of Boston? Through this partnership, Mass 2-1-1 Information & Referral Specialists will be able to dispatch a free Lyft ride for a caller who meets certain specific eligibility requirements and for whom no other local resource is available. Rides will be used to help callers get to and from a medical appointment or other healthcare location, for job interviews and other employment needs, and for veterans’ services. This pilot effort will last through the end of November 2018 with the possibility of expansion in 2019.
“Last year, Mass 2-1-1 received 348 transportation requests, and most of those could not be met with existing resources,” said Vice President of Mass2-1-1 Eileen Davis. “By partnering with Lyft, we’re better able to meet community needs by helping individuals get the services they require.” Rides will be available for qualifying individuals in the Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Roslindale and Roxbury.
The 2-1-1 program was launched by United Way 20 years ago as a free way to connect people to essential local resources. “Mass2-1-1 is an essential tool for helping people take better care of their families and makes more efficient use of a community’s nonprofit and public resources,” said United Way of Tri-County President and CEO and Executive Director of Mass2-1-1, Paul Mina. Mina, along with Davis, manages the statewide Mass2-1-1 Call Center from the United Way of Tri-County office in Downtown Framingham.
“Access to transportation is critical for an individual’s overall livelihood and wellness and we are thrilled to be selected as one of the 12 2-1-1’s across the country participating in this pilot,” Mina goes on to say.
Mass2-1-1 is a public/private program of the United Ways in Massachusetts and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The mission of Mass2-1-1 is to ensure that Massachusetts residents receive
accurate and helpful local information and are connected to appropriate resources where they live and work.
“United Way is a worldwide leader in addressing the complex challenges faced by vulnerable communities,” said Lyft Co-Founder and President John Zimmer. “Their dedication and ability to reach thousands of individuals in need through 2-1-1 makes them an ideal partner for Lyft Relief Rides. We appreciate the opportunity to join forces and expand our collective impact in local communities across the country."
Following the program’s success in these markets, Lyft and United Way will look to expand the program into more cities across the country.