Lyft finds a way to help its drivers earn during lockdown

The coronavirus has impacted just about every industry out there, including ridesharing. Trip numbers have tanked as companies shut up shop and people stay at home under lockdown orders, a situation that threatened to leave countless drivers twiddling their thumbs, wondering when life will return to normal.

In a bid to provide its drivers with alternative income opportunities, Lyft this week announced the launch of Essential Deliveries, a new pilot initiative geared toward transporting important items for government agencies, local non-profits, businesses, and health care organizations. Consignments can include everything from meals, groceries, and home necessities, to hygiene products and life-sustaining medical supplies.

The deliveries are contact free, with drivers paid a rate similar to a standard Lyft ride, the San Francisco-based company said this week.

Organizations getting involved include, for example, Dole Packaged Foods, which will use Lyft’s trial service to get food to facilities for seniors. Dole said the partnership will help it to deliver items to vulnerable populations faster and more efficiently than if it were doing it by itself. Another group, Army of Angels, is organizing school lunches for delivery to low-income families.

“As communities shelter in place, the need for items to be delivered to the doorstep is at an all-time high,” Lisa Boyd, director of social impact at Lyft, said in a release. “Whether it’s meals for high-risk seniors or medical supplies for individuals with a medical condition, Lyft’s community of drivers is ready to help meet the needs of our communities while earning additional income.”

Essential Deliveries will launch first in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Orlando, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego, San Antonio, and Seattle. Other locations are expected to be added over time, depending on the nature and length of the lockdowns. More partners will also be added.

In other measures prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, Lyft last month invited its drivers to join the LyftUp Driver Community Task Force for information on ride and delivery opportunities that benefit the community. More than 120,000 drivers from across the country have so far signed up.

Ridesharing giant Uber has taken similar action to Lyft, encouraging its drivers to pivot to its Uber Eats meal delivery service, if possible. It’s also launched a new Work Hub section in its app to help drivers find additional employment opportunities with Uber as well as other companies.

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