Lyft and United Way Are Giving Free Rides to 2-1-1 Callers in 12 Cities

Girl holding phone using gps
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Not having access to a set of wheels is the worst — especially if you live in a transportation desert or when you don’t have the financial means to hail a ride from an app.

No one wants to cancel a doctor’s appointment or job interview due to lack of transportation.

To help solve the problem, Lyft has partnered with United Way to provide free rides to residents in need in 12 cities. Transportation seekers just need to contact 2-1-1, a free, confidential help line operated by United Way that gives referrals and information 24/7 to people needing essential services.

The free Lyft rides are now available to residents in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco.

The service is made possible through the ride-hailing company’s Lyft Relief Rides program, which provides free rides to people in crisis. Free transportation will be available on a one-time basis to get people to and from nonemergency medical appointments, veterans services, job interviews and other employment-related stops.

Mary Sellers, the U.S. president for United Way Worldwide, told The Penny Hoarder 2-1-1 would do its best to accommodate those who need transportation on repeated occasions. However, the free Lyft ride service is not designed for those who need transportation on a regular or everyday basis.

Sellers said transportation assistance is among the top unmet needs for the help line. Last year, 20% of the more than 250,000 transportation requests 2-1-1 received could not be met with existing resources.

“By partnering with Lyft, we’re better able to meet community needs by helping individuals get the services they require,” Sellers said in a news release.

Lyft recently committed $1.5 million to its Lyft Relief Rides program.

According to United Way, the partnership with Lyft may expand to additional cities if the program is successful in the 12 pilot cities.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.