United Way and Lyft partner to help North Carolinians without transportation get their COVID-19 shot

Offbeat and Unique

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — COVID-19 vaccines could be within reach for people without a car through a new partnership between the United Way of the Greater Triangle and Lyft. It’s called RIDE UNITED NC.

“It’s a statewide campaign designed to remove the barriers of transportation for low-income North Carolina residents who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” explained Kaia Clarke Director of Corporate Philanthropy with the United Way of the Greater Triangle.

Through Lyft, people who need transportation help will receive round trip rides from their doorsteps to their vaccine appointments.

“With RIDE UNITED NC and with our donors we can help provide 100,000 rides across the state to ensure that not only they have the barrier of transportation removed, but they also have the trust-building that United Way provides,” continued Clarke.

This effort focuses on unserved communities. “The target population is not only communities of color but seniors. We know that a lot of seniors may have challenges with riding the public transportation,” said Clarke.

RIDE UNITED NC is expected to launch in mid-April and once it does people who need a ride will be identified through local nonprofits. They are also setting up a call center. The call center will help people who have never used the Lyft app before.

Clarke said there is a dedicated call specialist who is culturally calibrated to help the communities of color, seniors, and the underinsured complete their vaccine appointments. “They will schedule the Lyft ride. They can provide contacts about the individual and where they are. They can watch the Lyft driver take the individual to their appointment and back.”

The launch of RIDE UNITED NC is made possible by initial investments totaling more than $400,000 from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Coastal Credit Union, and Duke Energy. North Carolina Department of Transportation also helped coordinate the efforts.

If you want to sponsor a ride or find out more about RIDE UNITED NC by visiting their webpage Ride United NC.

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