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United Way Launches ‘Ride United’ To Meet Transportation Needs

United Way of Central Maryland and the 211 Maryland United Way Helpline will provide one-time, free Lyft rides to eligible callers in Greater Baltimore thanks to support from General Motors, Lyft and a Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center grant

BALTIMORE (February 13, 2020) – United Way Worldwide launched Ride United, a transportation access initiative that will help those in need overcome transportation barriers, in September 2019. United Way of Central Maryland is one of the partnership locations and received a grant to help connect callers with Lyft rides. Ride United launched with initial support from General Motors and Lyft, and leverages the strengths of local United Ways and the 211 Helpline network to meet transportation needs for individuals and families by providing free Lyft rides to eligible 211 callers*.

“Each month, thousands of requests come through the 211 Maryland United Way Helpline,” said Franklyn Baker, President and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “Our team is able to connect them to the services they need, but callers can’t always access these services because of transportation restrictions, including lack of access to a vehicle or nearby public transportation, or because they lack the funds for a taxi or ride share. Thanks to Ride United, United Way of Central Maryland and the other United Way markets can now provide free rides to help people get where they need to go.

“Here in Central Maryland and across the United States, a lack of reliable, safe, convenient transportation hinders people’s ability to get to critical doctor appointments, get to work or go to job interviews, shop for healthy food, apply for public benefits, and generally thrive in their communities. To date, our organization has provided more than $16,000 in rides to eligible callers,” added Baker.

In the U.S., 45 percent of people don’t have access to public transportation, and roughly 10.5 million people don’t have access to a vehicle. 211 helplines in more than 25 local markets, including Baltimore, are now able to schedule Lyft rides for eligible clients without other transportation options.

General Motors recently announced an additional $20,000 to expand the 211 and Lyft partnership. In addition to the partnership with Lyft, United Ways and 211s are working with community partners and policymakers to close transportation gaps by partnering with companies that provide alternative transportation options like bikes and scooters, participating in multi-sector coalitions, and investing in mobility access services.

An additional grant from the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center, totaling nearly $60,000, will provide Lyft rides in Baltimore City to individuals seeking treatment for an opioid use disorder at Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc. Rides are used to help patients get to detox and to help post-detox patients get to follow-up appointments to continue their recovery. This is part of a statewide campaign that encourages Marylanders experiencing a substance misuse or mental health crisis to “call 211, press 1” to be connected to services.

“The ‘call 211, press 1’ campaign, in partnership with local 211s, including the 211 Maryland United Way Helpline, provides an invaluable resource to us as we battle the opioid crisis in our state,” said Steve Schuh, executive director of the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center. “The Hogan administration is pleased to support the ‘Ride United’ initiative. Transportation to and from detox and treatment is one of the greatest hurdles to recovery. This service will be essential to our fight.”

On February 11, 211 Day, United Way of Central Maryland raised additional funds that will help to continue this program. Those interested in supporting Ride United or learning more can visit www.uwcm.org/rideunited. 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 211 to speak to a local specialist about available resources, or to visit www.211.org for more contact options.

*To be eligible for Lyft rides, callers must meet pre-determined need requirements. Rides will be provided for food access, employment and medical needs, and public benefits access for those residing in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, and Howard County. Ride availability is limited.

**Supported by the Opioid Operational Command Center. The views presented here are those of the grantee organization and not necessarily those of the OOCC, its Executive Director, or its staff.

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United Way of Central Maryland makes our communities stronger. We work with families and individuals to keep them in their homes and out of shelters, with kids who need help in school, and with people who need healthy food and jobs that pay the bills. We achieve all this with the help of our partners: volunteers, donors, other nonprofits and area businesses who share our passion for making lives and neighborhoods stable and healthier.

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For more than 90 years, United Way of Central Maryland has been improving lives in the communities it serves: Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County, Maryland.

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