Lyft, GreatCall test senior transportation program

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GreatCall Rides will use the Jitterbug phone.
GreatCall Rides will use the Jitterbug phone.

Seniors in select markets who use Jitterbug cell phones will be able to arrange for transportation from ride-hailing service Lyft under a new pilot program announced Tuesday.

The GreatCall Rides program became available on Aug. 22 to GreatCall's mobile product customers in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and wherever Lyft is offered in Arizona, California and Florida. Users don't need a smartphone or an app; they press “0” on their Jitterbug flip phones and are connected to a personal operator, who orders a ride for them. The service is available 24 hours a day.

“We know older adults may have a more difficult time getting around,” said Gyre Renwick (pictured), head of healthcare enterprise partnerships at Lyft, which is based in San Francisco. “In addition to night driving and freeway concerns, many don't own or want a smartphone. So we created the Concierge platform to allow partners like GreatCall to provide this service to their members. Whether they're going to a doctor's appointment, shopping or lunch with friends, no one's independence should be impacted by transportation concerns.”

San Diego-based GreatCall is promising older adults in the test markets that their transportation will arrive in less than 10 minutes and can be booked up to one week in advance. The costs of rides, plus a fee, will be added to the customers' monthly bills. As an introductory promotion, GreatCall customers will receive $5 off on their first Lyft ride. 

“By creating this partnership with Lyft, we can eliminate a key barrier to mobility,” said David Inns (pictured), CEO of GreatCall.

GreatCall expects to expand the pilot to additional markets and, depending on the results of the tests, nationwide. A timetable has not been announced.

The company has approximately 900,000 customers nationwide, a GreatCall representative told McKnight's Senior Living. She was unable to provide an estimate of how many of the company's customers are in the markets where the new service initially is being tested.

Rail-hailing and ride-sharing programs have been grabbing headlines this week.

As McKnight's Senior Living reported, senior living provider Revera is pilot-testing a program with UberCentral that enables a community receptionist to order transportation for residents who don't necessarily have the smartphones and Uber accounts usually required to order a ride from Uber's independent-contractor drivers. Revera also is testing the platform for employee transportation and group activities.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Google has been testing a ride-sharing service near its California headquarters. The tech company, the newspaper reports, plans to offer the program to all San Francisco-area users of the Waze app this fall and perhaps expand it further after that. Unlike the aforementioned tests with UberCentral and Lyft, however, Google's program, at least for now, would be geared toward commuting workers who use smartphones.

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