In an age of corporate scandals and greed, you don’t often come across a feel-good story.
Today, we have a nice, pick-me-up story to tell—a corporation is trying to do something kind for a change. Lyft, the San Francisco-based, ride-sharing company, which runs in over 600 cities in the United States and Canada, is offering its services for free or reduced costs to people in need.
In a bold, corporate initiative, Lyft’s Jobs Access Program plans to help an underserved and overlooked group of people. The company will provide transportation for people who are going to interviews, starting new jobs or attending job-training functions. The people whom they’re trying to help predominantly live in lower socioeconomic areas and lack the financial means to get themselves to and from job interviews and work—or it's a big cost burden that’s not sustainable given their limited means. The program will pay particular attention to populations, such as veterans and people with disabilities.
Lyft is partnering with a host of other organizations who believe in this goal. The partners include, in part, Goodwill, the USO, National Down Syndrome Society and the United Way. The collective groups desire to help the unemployed by offering reliable transportation to a job interview and the first few weeks of work. This assistance could mean the difference between getting a new job and losing out on an opportunity. It could change a person’s life for the better.
The program will focus on three key interventions including:
- Providing car rides to and from job training programs
- Offering Lyft rides to interviews and then returning them home afterwards
- Continuing to service people in need with rides back and forth from work during the person’s initial three weeks of employment or until the individual receives their first paycheck and can start to pay for their own transportation expenses.
Ashley Helsing, the director of government relations for the National Down Syndrome Society said, “There are roughly two million people living with disabilities in the United States. Of those two million, nearly 30%, or 560,000 people, are unable to leave their home because of transportation barriers. The ability to get around easily, especially for employment in the disability community, is crucial to the future.”
While this is a noble and charitable venture, Lyft has its own challenges. The company lost $463.5 million in the third quarter of 2019—double the amount that the company lost last year in the same time period. Lyft is under constant pressure from its investors to stem its huge losses and turn the corner toward profitability. Lyft set a record for one of the most amounts of money lost in the run-up to an IPO. Since going public, the company has continued to burn through money and its stock price has declined substantially.
It's not clear in the press statements if Lyft is getting outside financial support for this endeavor. If Lyft isn’t, it will certainly cost the company a fair amount of money. Hopefully, its good-will efforts will entice more customers and riders who believe in the company’s mission. Perhaps, Lyft will siphon off customers of its arch-rival, Uber, which has had a checkered past. If this happens, the enhanced revenue and new riders may help the company become profitable.