United Way Launches Ride United to Address Transportation Gaps

United Way of Pierce County’s South Sound 211 operation will begin providing free Lyft rides to eligible clients in select cities in September

Recently, United Way Worldwide announced the launch of Ride United, a transportation access initiative that will help individuals in need overcome transportation barriers. Ride United launches with initial support from General Motors and Lyft, and leverages the strengths of local United Ways and the 211 network to address unmet transportation needs for individuals and families.

United Way of Pierce County and its South Sound 211 are among 23 organizations in the group to participate in the Ride United Lyft. Through the partnership with Lyft, South Sound 211 will provide free rides to eligible 211 clients specifically in need of transportation for employment, health and access to public benefits.

In the U.S., 45% of people don’t have access to public transportation and roughly, 10.5 million people don’t have access to a vehicle. 211 operates in more than twenty-five local markets* and will be able to schedule Lyft rides for eligible clients without other transportation options. 

In Pierce County, the mean travel time to work, according to U.S. Census Bureau Data, is nearly 30 minutes and 12 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. According to Penni Belcher, Director of South Sound 211, “The heart of the issue is access to reliable transportation and what that looks like to different populations. For the past two years, we’ve deployed a transportation navigator to help address structural barriers. This partnership with Lyft will provide a convenient way for our clients to get to critical appointments.”

Rachel Krausman, Senior Director, 211, United Way Worldwide, offered background, “In 2018, we partnered with Lyft in 12 cities and provided 12,000 free rides to help fill this gap and saw how transformational a single ride could be. Through Ride United, more United Ways and 211s will work with their communities to close transportation gaps throughout the country,”

Nationally, the 2-1-1 network receives more than 230,000 transportation requests every year, and on average 25% of these can’t be met with existing resources. South Sound 211 serves Pierce, Thurston and Lewis Counties and last year alone, nearly 90,0,00 contacts were connected to vital services.  

Those interested in supporting Ride United or learning more can visit uwpc.org Lyft customers can also select United Way as their partner of choice for Lyft’s Round Up & Donate program, donating the difference between their total ride cost and the next whole dollar to Ride United. Individuals in need of assistance are encouraged to dial 2-1-1 to speak to a local specialist about available resources, or to visit www.uwpc.org/get-help-now for more options.

*Participating Ride United cities will include: Atlanta, GA, Austin, TX, Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, Cincinnati, OH, Denver, CO, Des Moines, IA, Detroit, MI, Houston, TX, Louisville, KY, Minneapolis, MN, Omaha, NE, Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Salt Lake City, UT, San Diego, CA, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, Springfield, MA, St. Louis, MO, Tacoma, WA Tallahassee, FL, Tampa Bay Area, FL and Ventura, CA.

About United Way of Pierce County: Our goal is to lift 15,000 local households out of poverty and into financial stability by 2028, one family at a time. We do this with a three-pronged approach that incorporates prevention, intervention and empowerment. United Way creates a solid foundation for Basic Needs like food, clothing and shelter so people can move out of crisis; breaks down barriers via South Sound 211 to connect families to critical resources and navigation services including behavioral health, housing, transportation and employment; and Builds Strong Families by helping people face financial challenges with free, one-on-one financial and career coaching and resources that help families thrive and break the cycle of poverty. By mobilizing local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals who are committed to making a long-term measurable difference in our community, we are tackling poverty in Pierce County. To learn more visit www.uwpc.org.

Media Contacts

United Way of Pierce County

Katherine Ransom, Vice President Marketing & Communications

katheriner@uwpc.org Tel. 253.284.2549

United Way Worldwide

Southerlyn Reisig, Director of Public Relations
Tel. 703.836.7100 ext.321