Ride United is a transportation access initiative that leverages the strengths of United Ways, the 211 network and partners to address unmet transportation needs for individuals and families across the U.S.
United Way launched Ride United in 2019, with support from General Motors, to address transportation barriers facing people across America.
Through Ride United, United Ways and 211s are partnering with communities to tackle this problem. Whether it’s leveraging ride share partners like Lyft to schedule and dispatch free rides, providing financial assistance for car repairs and gas, or collaborating with community partners and policymakers to improve public transportation access — United Way is creating innovative solutions.
In 2018, United Way Worldwide partnered with Lyft to provide more than 12,000 free rides to 211 clients in several cities. Expanded in 2019 to 25 cities, free Lyft rides are helping people get to job interviews, critical medical appointments, grocery storew and more. Read more about how we’ve helped:
Veteran in need
A veteran client recently relocated to Houston from Alabama. He is unemployed and needed help with getting situated in Houston, including establishing his benefits. He mentioned he was out of blood pressure medication and needed to see a physician. He also shared that his car broke down and he had no other means of transportation or any money for bus fare. 211 was able to connect him to food pantries, housing options, and scheduled a round-trip ride to get him to the VA to seek medical attention and to work with a case manager to establish benefits in Houston.
Supporting a mother
A 32-year-old woman with a 10-month-old child had a 3-day notice for eviction and disconnection notices for her lights and gas, all since she lost her job. Another agency, which provides aid and services due to unexpected emergencies, turned her down because she doesn't have income to maintain rent after receiving help. She had no idea what she was going to do and a friend told her to call 211. She received help with her electric assistance and some items for her baby. She starts a 2-week job training tomorrow and when completed she'll be helped to get employment. When asked if she had transportation to get to that training, she reluctantly said not really...she wasn't sure how she was going to complete the training. After hearing about the Lyft partnership, she was in tears, saying "Wow, you can really do that for me?" repeatedly. Her ride was scheduled for the next day and she'll call back to set up her other rides. She was also surprised it can help with medical appointments because she's been missing appointments due to lack of transportation. She seemed genuinely overwhelmed with the help.
Ride home from the hospital
A 211 Navigation Specialist received a call from a nurse at St. David’s Hospital who called to check if there were any transportation options for a patient. The patient was not feeling strong enough to use public transportation and did not have any other way of getting home. We told the nurse about the 211 + Lyft Pilot and were able to provide a free non-emergency healthcare ride for the patient. We scheduled the ride, and when the call ended, the patient received a text from the Lyft driver to say he was around the corner and on his way. Both the patient and hospital staff were amazed and thankful that there was now a resource in the community like Lyft that could help their patients with immediate transportation needs.
Across the United States, a lack of reliable, safe, convenient transportation hinders hundreds of thousands of peoples’ abilities to get to good jobs, access healthcare, obtain healthy food, apply for public benefits and thrive in their communities.
We Can Help
211 is a vital service leveraged by millions of people across North America. Every day, clients contact 211 to access free and confidential crisis and emergency counseling, disaster assistance, food, health care and insurance assistance, stable housing and utilities payment assistance, employment services, veteran services and childcare and family services. Last year, the 211 network responded to over 14 million requests for assistance across the U.S.
If you need support, just dial 211 to speak with a caring call specialist — and get connected to resources in your community. Visit 211.org for more information.
How You Can Support Transportation Access in Your Community
Whether you represent a small business, a major corporation, a community foundation, or are an individual looking to help, you can join the fight.
Donations of any amount can support critical 211 services. Your generous contribution will strengthen the 211 network across the U.S. and help expand our services, including initiatives like Ride United — which provides free transportation to people in need.
Do you use Lyft? Round Up & Donate to United Way
Lyft’s Round Up & Donate feature lets customers round up a ride fare to the nearest whole dollar, and then donate the difference to a worthy cause. For example, if you have a $12.75 fare, Lyft will round up the total to $13. The difference of $0.25 will be donated to the Lyft partner organization of your choice. You can now select United Way as your charitable organization within the Lyft app to support Ride United.
Overview on program
Want to Learn More?
Connect with your local United Way to see what activities are happening in your community. Find your local United Way here.
If you are interested in supporting Ride United as a partner or funder
please contact Larissa Rydin or Hilary Palotay.