By Isabela Rocha
Boston University News Service
BOSTON — Lyft users around the U.S. can now request and monitor rides for third parties.
Rides for Others was created to help users get their loved ones to essential service destinations — such as vaccine appointments — without having to come in contact with them, according to an announcement posted on a Lyft blog.
Passengers must have a Lyft app and account in order to receive a ride, according to the blog, and be at least 18 years old to ride alone, according to company guidelines. Round trips are not available; return trips have to be requested separately — and depend on driver availability — said a company spokesperson in an email.
“Equipping caregivers with the tools they need to ensure their loved ones can access essential medical care is critical to beating this virus,” Megan Callahan, VP of Lyft Healthcare, said in a statement.
Ride for Others was announced on Feb. 11. Customers could previously order rides informally by setting the pickup location they wanted and calling or leaving a note for the driver to let them know the ride was for a third party.
For riders who don’t use the app, the company has a Call A Lyft Ride service. However, this service is only available in Florida and on weekdays. The service allows users to request and pay for a trip through a phone call. Riders have access to their trip’s details and tracking link by text.
To request a ride for a third party, Lyft users must open their apps and tap on the menu over the address box, where they can select who will be riding, according to instructions posted on a company blog. Once they have inserted the pickup and drop-off locations and pressed “Select Lyft,” the rider will be able to access their trip details through their own account.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines to lower the transmission of COVID-19 while riding in cars. Car seats might be a source of COVID-19 transmission, but they aren’t considered the main way in which the virus spreads, according to the CDC website.
However, even with an open window, aerial virus transmission can happen in car rides, according to a January 2021 study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The best way to lower one’s chances of becoming infected when riding is to keep all car windows open.
In accordance with CDC guidelines, Lyft requires both riders and drivers to wear a face cover. A spokesperson for Lyft said the company also encourages riders and drivers to keep the windows down and to avoid using the service if he or she is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or he or she has tested positive for the virus. Riders must also travel in the back seats.