Just before Veterans Day, Uber and Lyft are teaming up with the U.S. government to offer free transportation to former military men and women who lack a way to get to jobs and interviews.
Lack of adequate transportation is one of the major problems affecting the veteran population, particularly homeless veterans. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates there were more than 49,000 homeless veterans in America in 2014. Out of that number, approximately 68 percent, or more than 33,000, live in areas where a lack of reliable transportation makes it difficult to reach services and job opportunities, according to The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
Uber has pledged to donate 10,000 rides (the equivalent of $125,000 in Uber profits) across five veteran organizations affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program.
The 10,000 rides number doesn’t quite cover the tens of thousands of those in need or the several rides these veterans will presumably take. The donated profit is also pocket change, compared to the more than $8 billion Uber took in VC dollars invested so far.
It was not clear how many rides Lyft is offering or if its portion will cover the rest, but a White House blog mentions both Uber and Lyft “are donating tens of thousands of free rides” and a Lyft spokesperson mentioned Lyft is “donating thousands of rides,” when we reached out for a more exact number.
Uber riders and drivers could also help close that gap. Starting on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2015, Uber users in 150 cities across the U.S. can donate $5 towards a ride for a veteran within the app by sliding over to the option marked “VET’S DAY.” Those who choose to donate this way will receive an SMS text message after, but will need to reply “Yes” to Uber to complete the process.
Lyft has no known military program, but this is not the first time Uber has made an effort to help our men and women in military service. Uber launched UberMILITARY a little over a year ago to train veterans to be Uber drivers. More than 40,000 veterans have joined the driver platform since the launch of the initiative, according to Uber.
Other companies have joined together with the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s veterans initiative Joining Forces to help military service men and women this Veteran’s Day. PenFed Foundation will provide emergency assistance for veterans experiencing a financial hardship and Walmart is asking customers to change one light bulb in their home to glow green as a “symbol of appreciation.”