Forgoing public transportation for taxis or ride-sharing apps is a luxury. Lyft, however, is hoping to bring its service to more people working their way up the socio-economic ladder.
The company unveiled this week a Jobs Access Program, which provides free or discounted rides to job seekers and recent hires in over 35 cities across the U.S. and Canada. Lyft partnered with several non-profit organizations, including Goodwill, Year Up, and United Way, to connect people with the program and disperse ride credits.
"We knew that we could have a real impact here," said Mike Masserman, Lyft's head of global policy and social impact. "These folks now have access to an affordable, reliable mode of transportation, which in many cases they haven't had before."
The Jobs Access Program, Lyft says, stems from the company's goal of providing transportation access "to those who need it most." Under the initiative, rides will be provided to job training programs, job interviews, and during an employee's first three weeks on the job to ease the wait time for their first paycheck.
"We aren't just giving credits to the general public. People are actually going to have to work with these nonprofits to be able to get these rides," Masserman explained.
Several studies have also proven that access to affordable and dependable transportation is a key driver of economic opportunities. A recent report in Regional Science and Urban Economics, an academic journal, found that transportation access is fundamental to building "more equitable and inclusive cities" and decentralizing impoverished areas.
The World Bank, moreover, explained in a development report that "poor people's inability to access jobs and services is an important element of the social exclusion that defines urban poverty."
Lyft is also partnering with organizations like the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) so that its Jobs Access Program can reach people with disabilities.
"There are roughly two million people living with disabilities in the United States. Of those two million, nearly 30 percent, or 560,000 people, are unable to leave their home because of transportation barriers," Ashley Helsing, NDSS' director of government relations, said in a statement. "The ability to get around easily, especially for employment in the disability community, is crucial to the future."
The Jobs Access Program is part of Lyft's pledge, made earlier this year, to commit $50 million annually to working with partner organizations and city officials to improve the nation's transportation infrastructure.