(TMU) — This month, rideshare company Lyft announced a new program where free rides will be given to both job hunters and to new hires during their first three weeks of employment. The new “Jobs Access Program” could be a game-changer for those who are trapped in poverty and don’t have affordable or flexible options for transportation.
“For the unemployed, reliable transportation to a job interview or to the first few weeks of work can mean the difference between successful, long-term employment and lost opportunities,” Lyft said in a statement.
The program will launch in 35 different cities in the United States, with plans to expand in the future.
The announcement from Lyft cited an Oxford study which suggested that access to transportation is one of the most important factors in escaping poverty.
Another study that Lyft conducted on their own showed that 44% of the rides taken through their service start or end in low-income areas. The study also found that 35% of Lyft riders do not own or lease a vehicle of their own.
This program could also be helpful for people with disabilities who are seeking work but are unable to drive, according to Ashley Helsing of the National Down Syndrome Society.
“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,” Helsing said. The National Down Syndrome Society is one of 10 partner organizations that have helped make the program possible.
Alicia Lara, Senior Vice President of United Way, another organization that partnered with Lyft for this program, expressed her excitement about the partnership in a statement published on Lyft’s blog:
“United Way believes that people of all ages and abilities should have an opportunity to improve their economic status through employment. When we work with corporate partners like Lyft in pursuit of this goal, the entire community benefits and together, we can affect sweeping change that benefits us all.”
A 2015 study conducted at Temple University showed that rideshare services also cut down on drunk driving. Researchers looked at drunk driving data between 2009 and 2014 in California, as 2009 was the year that Uber first entered the marketplace. They discovered a decrease in drunk driving-related deaths that was somewhere between 3.6% and 5.6%.
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