Lyft teaming up with United Way, Impact to provide free rides for those in need

Milwaukee one of 12 cities to pilot new initiative

Tom Wiedmeyer drives for Lyft in Milwaukee. He has disco lights, glowsticks and water available for riders.

Low-income Milwaukee residents needing transportation to a job interview or medical appointments will be offered free Lyft rides under the rideshare company’s new partnership with United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County and Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization Impact, Inc.

Milwaukee is one of 12 cities to pilot the new Lyft initiative, which is aimed at providing transportation for individuals in need and veterans. The company has backed the pilot program with a $1.5 million commitment over the next year.

In Milwaukee, specific clinics, shelters and organizations will submit ride requests on behalf of eligible clients, including riders who lack access to their own personal transportation and do not qualify for other subsidized or free transportation services.

Impact, which operates an information and referral helpline that connects people to essential services, said access to transportation is a significant need in the community. The organization receives transportation requests through its 2-1-1 call center, several of which can’t be met with existing resources.

“No one wants to cancel a doctor’s appointment or job interview due to lack of transportation,” said John Hyatt, Impact president and chief executive officer. “We are excited by the opportunity to coordinate free Lyft rides for clients of several community programs for which transportation is an issue.”

Under the partnership, cities are allotted 175 rides per month to provide to those in need.

“Not only are rides to medical appointments, job interviews and veterans’ services some of the most frequent transportation requests of 2-1-1, but they also strongly align with ongoing work to bring communities together and help individuals maintain personal stability,” said Nicole Angresano, vice president of community impact at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. “Lyft’s Relief Rides partnership removes a barrier which enables individuals to be healthy and productive.”

Other cities to pilot the program include Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.