Lyft News

How Our Disaster Relief Access Program Works

Rosie Bubb - Jul 3, 2019
Poster - how-our-disaster-relief-access-program-works

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, our goal is to make transportation as easy as possible for those in need. In these moments, connecting passengers with their loved ones and helping them access valuable community services becomes more crucial than ever. 

Since 2017,  we’ve been steadily building partnerships with local communities and nonprofit leaders to provide rides when disasters strike. Lyft drivers have led the way, helping passengers affected by some of the most devastating natural disasters ranging from Hurricane Harvey to the wildfires in California. In some cases, drivers have become local heroes, selflessly giving their time and energy to help their communities.

Today, we’re excited to announce our official Disaster Relief Access Program, which is part of City Works. Through this program, we’ll share how we evaluate — and respond — to disasters, increase access to even more resources, and provide valuable safety tips for our riders and drivers.

How We Evaluate 

  • To have the most impact, we only dispatch rides in areas where Lyft operates — the Lyft Operations Center constantly monitors the state of our markets. 

  • As soon as we receive notice of an incoming natural disaster, our Operations team evaluates a number of factors, including, but not limited to: road conditions, nearby drivers, and relationships with local government agencies  — to understand if there’s anything we can do.

How We Respond 

  • Whenever conditions are safe, our goal is to provide support for individuals to get to shelters and other areas of refuge. This typically takes the form of a free ride code to designated areas. These ride codes will be shared by nonprofits, local news organizations, and on Lyft’s Facebook and Instagram pages. We also work closely with the team at Facebook to post updates or ride codes on Facebook Crisis Response.

  • We also try to direct affected individuals to other useful services in their area, such as information services through United Way and 211 or Airbnb’s Open Homes

  • Outside of direct support to our rider community, Lyft also provides transportation support to first responders and volunteers, so we can collectively help affected communities. Team Rubicon is one of our partners in making sure we deploy trained volunteers to help with relief efforts.

  • Once we’ve identified a disaster relief area, we will comply with any declarations of a state of emergency — which may include a cap on Prime Time. Regardless, we will aim to keep rides affordable during times of disaster to ensure people can get to where they need to be.

Safety Tips to Keep In Mind

For riders: 

  • If we’re able to provide transportation support, you can always find information (such as, how to find ride discounts or promo codes, shelter locations, etc.) on our blog, Twitter, or Facebook pages.

  • We always work in partnership with local governments. So if certain areas or roads have been officially closed, we may not be able to serve that region.

  • We prioritize our drivers’ safety. This means if weather or road conditions are severe, you may not see as many drivers on the road, or ETAs may be higher than expected. 

  • If you are already in an area that has been closed off due to emergencies, road conditions, or disaster proximity — or if you need emergency assistance — please call 911 first. 

  • Once you’re in the ride, you can share your location from the Lyft app with a friend or loved one so they can follow along in real-time.

  • During a standard Lyft ride, you can always adjust your drop-off location at any time. 

For drivers: 

  • Please use your best judgment when evaluating road conditions. If weather or road conditions reach a critical level, we may send you a message advising you on these conditions. We encourage you to use your discretion so that everyone can stay safe on the road. 

  • Certain areas may be shut down due to debris or safety reasons. When we’re able to, we’ll point out these zones to you — to help make your time on the road safer and easier.

  • When you start driving, be sure to share your location with loved ones so they know where you are, and can follow along in real-time. You can do this from the Settings section of your phone (Apple or Android).

  • If at any point you require emergency assistance while driving, you can quickly access 911 in the app. (Just head to from the dropdown menu and tap Emergency assistance so help can be on the way.

911 access in Driver App
911 access in Driver App

We look forward to growing our Disaster Relief Access Program and continuing to provide rides when our communities need them the most.