When disasters manmade or natural strike, you can be sure that Lyft will respond as best it can — so says the company, at least. Lyft outlined in a blog post this morning its Disaster Relief Access Program, the protocol it uses to evaluate — and respond to — disasters while increasing access to potentially life-saving resources.
“[W]e will aim to keep rides affordable during times of disaster to ensure people can get to where they need to be,” wrote Lyft. “We look forward to growing our Disaster Relief Access Program and continuing to provide rides when our communities need them the most.”
As is the case with Uber, Lyft says its global operations center constantly monitors the state of affected areas and only dispatches rides in places where service restrictions haven’t been imposed. When operators receive notice of an incoming disaster, the company says they evaluate a range of factors — including road conditions, nearby drivers, and relationships with local government agencies — to figure out if there’s anything that Lyft can do.
In responding to a disaster, Lyft says it regularly provides free ride codes to designated areas through nonprofits, local news organizations, and on the official Lyft Facebook and Instagram pages. The company also says it also works “closely” with Facebook to post updates or ride codes on the Facebook Crisis Response Hub, and that it tries to direct affected users to other “useful services” nearby (such as United Way 211 or Airbnb’s Open Homes) and to provide transportation to first responders and volunteers.
Lastly, Lyft says it complies with road closures imposed by local governments and any declarations of a state of emergency, including caps on fares. (Lyft says it’ll point out shut-down areas to drivers within the app “when [it’s] able to.”) Additionally, the company says it dispatches fewer rides when it determines drivers’ safety is at risk.
The Disaster Relief Access Program is a part of City Works, an initiative Lyft launched in Los Angeles earlier this year that’s more or less an amalgam of its existing commitments to community uplift — albeit with fresh capital behind it. Lyft pledged last year to make the bulk of its rides carbon neutral and to use 100% renewable energy at its facilities, and it recently announced that it’ll purchase renewable energy credits through Los Angeles’ Green Energy for a Green LA program. Lyft also invests in services that minimize single-occupancy cars, like Shared Saver.
In Los Angeles, Lyft said it would form advisory councils made up of civic leaders and advocates and commit a minimum of $50 million a year (or 1% of profits) to “improving … life through grassroots transportation initiatives.” It also said it would offer free and discounted rides to support staff and communities of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home partner organizations, including the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles, PATH, and the People Concern, and that it would collaborate with nonprofits like Investing in Place to make bikes and scooters available to low-income families.