Mobile Commerce

Lyft Works To Connect Smartphoneless Seniors To The Digital Age

Ridesharing is one of those modern miracles apt to leave a population that could really be well-served by it — senior citizens past their driving years, who are otherwise pretty independent — behind for a simple, and kind of stupid, reason.

Said simply: The older Americans get, the less likely they are to be holding a smartphone. About a quarter of the U.S. population over 65 doesn’t have a smartphone, and that is rather unevenly distributed (many 65-year-olds, particularly those still in the workforce, are avid smartphone users) among the age cohort.

But Lyft, as a disruptive innovator that never met a citizen it didn’t think it could give a ride to, is not about to let the small issue of lack of enabling technology stand in the way of seniors on the go. The ridesharing service has announced a partnership with National MedTrans Network that will provide seniors in New York City a way to access Lyft for non-emergency medical appointments, even if they don’t have a smartphone they call their own.

Made possible through a third-party Web application called Concierge, the service allows its partners to call Lyft online and essentially book a ride.

“Every year, around 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical care because they lack appropriate transportation to their appointments,” Lyft noted in a blog post. “Lyft has long been on a mission to reconnect people and communities through better transportation; we’re making sure people who need rides most are able to get them, starting with a new partnership and a new product being piloted in NYC.”

The goal is pretty straight forward: Grandma may not be able to wrap her head around calling a ride with a smartphone due to being in her late 80s, but her kids and grandkids understand it, can get her started and, in time, can get her accustomed to the rideshare revolution.

So far, Lyft reports booking 2,500 rides a week through the service, but Billy McKee, president of National MedTrans Network, details in the blog post that he plans to increase that number.

“Using Transportation-as-a-Service like this, the health plans and government agencies we partner with are significantly reducing fraud, saving costs and improving the patient experience,” said McKee. “We provide over 25,000 livery trips per week in NYC, and our goal is to push all of those through Lyft.”

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