Lyft will provide free electric scooter rides to essential workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While most scooter-sharing programs in the US have temporarily ceased operations in response to the pandemic, Lyft is still operating scooters in a handful of cities, and the company wants to support the transportation needs of health care workers and others on the frontlines of the crisis.
Lyft is offering free scooter rides through April 30th, up to 30 minutes in length, for first-responders, health care employees, and transit workers in the following cities: Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Monica, and Washington, DC. Employers like hospitals, clinics, and transit agencies can email Lyft at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain enrollment information that they can distribute to staff.
Lyft says it will prioritize scooter deployment near local hospitals for health care workers. The company is continuing to disinfect contact surfaces on scooters each time they are recharged, including handlebars, brake levers, bells, and throttles. The team is also disinfecting high contact surfaces on vans used to transport scooters at the start of each shift.
“Lyft scooters can play a unique role in providing essential transportation to critical workers on the frontlines against COVID-19,” said Caroline Samponaro, head of micromobility and transit policy at Lyft. “In a time of crisis, we know Lyft can be an essential lifeline, and we are proud to serve first-responders, transit, and healthcare providers as they serve the public.”
Previously, the ride-hailing company said it would provide free and discounted bike-share passes to essential workers in half a dozen cities. Free or cheap bike and scooter trips are especially useful as public transportation ridership continues to plummet in most cities and ride-sharing is not seen as a safe alternative. In fact, there has been a surge in cycling in New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Of course, Lyft’s ride-sharing business has plummeted as health officials instruct people to avoid unnecessary travel. The company’s rides business has been cut in half in recent weeks, according to The Information. Lyft’s revenue after paying drivers is likely to be less than $150 million a month currently, down from about $260 million a month during the first quarter of last year, the publication reports. Lyft’s rival, Uber, has also seen a huge drop in demand and sales.
Both companies have come under fire for classifying drivers and delivery workers as independent contractors. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote a letter to gig companies calling on them to “reclassify your delivery workers as employees, rather than independent contractors, and ensure they are provided a full suite of employee protections and benefits.”