WASHINGTON—The District of Columbia has begun offering residents free taxi rides to grocery stores, food pantries, libraries and other stops in an effort to help ease the financial burden of transportation, reports the Washington Post.
The city’s “Taxi-to-Rail” program launched in May 2019 and initially allowed only trips to or from eight Metro stations east of the Anacostia River in the District and Maryland. More recently, two more Metro stops were added, as well as grocery and public stores.
Citizens can get rides to buy groceries at Safeway, Giant, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods and a Martha’s Table food pantry in Wards 6, 7 and 8. The revised program now includes rides to libraries, pools and recreation centers.
The Post says that the District government will pay the first $10 of the taxi fare, which covers about 3.5 to 4 miles. So far the $65,000 pilot program has provided just over 100 rides, District officials said. There are no income or residency requirements, and rides can be booked via Taxi2Rail.com, the ezRidr app or by phone.
“We wanted to make sure that those neighborhoods and residents who don’t have a car don’t need to carry those groceries for a long period of time. We also wanted to make sure they could connect to the freshest and most nutritious foods as possible,” said David Do, director of the District’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles.
As reported in NACS Daily, Lyft has a similar program in the District offering discounted rides to grocery stores, farmer’s markets and food pantries for people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.