Uber, Lyft to give free rides to COVID-19 vaccine sites in deal with White House

·3 min read

Uber and Lyft will provide free rides to any user traveling to get the COVID-19 vaccine through an agreement reached with the White House.

The free rides will last through July 4, the date when President Joe Biden wants 70% of U.S. adults to be vaccinated, according to the WSJ, which was the first to report on the partnership between the ride-hailing companies and the White House.

Lyft and Uber separately told TechCrunch the companies will cover the costs of the free rides. The White House will help advise on the product and how it is rolled out, as well as share data on the more than 80,000 vaccination sites in the country, an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Uber didn't provide a specific launch date for the program, only noting that it is expected to become available in the coming weeks. Lyft riders will be able to get a free ride code beginning May 24 via the app or website.

"Vaccines are our best hope to beat this pandemic and soon everyone in America will be able to take a free Uber to get their shot," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement. "We are honored to deepen our previous global commitments, and partner with the White House and Lyft to provide free rides to vaccination sites across the US. This is a proud moment for me, for Uber, and for our country. More and more Americans continue to get vaccinated every day -- let's keep moving forward, together."

Uber hasn't released further details about how its program will work. Lyft said its ride codes will cover $15 each way and noted that based on previous rides given to vaccination sites, the company expects that figure will cover most, if not all, fares. Ride codes can be used for Lyft ride-hailing, bike or scooter rides during standard pharmacy operating hours of 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

"The vaccine is the key to getting us all moving again, and we're proud to do our part to move the country forward," John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft, said in a statement. "We've always believed transportation has the power to improve people's lives, and this initiative makes that truer than ever. Helping more Americans get vaccinated helps the Lyft community of drivers and riders, and we're grateful to the Biden Administration for prioritizing access."

The announcement builds off of efforts by Lyft and Uber to provide free and discounted rides to underserved communities as well as roll out features to make it easier to access vaccine information and point-of-distribution sites. Uber first rolled out a COVID-relief program in March to offer free rides and deliveries. In December, the company said it would give an additional 10 million free or discounted rides.

Last month, Uber said it was launching more than a half-dozen new features, including one that will let users book vaccine appointments at Walgreens and reserve a ride to get their jab.

Lyft kicked off in December a universal vaccine access campaign, a coalition of partners that includes JPMorgan Chase, Anthem and United Way, to provide 60 million rides to and from vaccination sites for low-income, uninsured and at-risk communities.

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