Dallas is known for many things, like its music scene, Reunion Tower and an assassination. But its ease of public transportation hasn’t ever been something to write home about.
To try to alleviate the transportation burden for people on the job hunt, the ride-hailing company Lyft is offering free rides for qualifying people who need a ride to a job interview. “Our program helps people access transportation to work, job training and job interviews,” said Lyft on its website.
Despite having an extensive rail system and bus line, Dallas Area Rapid Transit is not always the best way to get around Dallas. For one, the city is big, and according to the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the average commute time in 2021 was 28.6 minutes. But most people in Dallas use their own vehicles to get to work, and that time can be extended when having to navigate the DART system.
For instance, if a person needed to walk to a bus to get to a rail line, then to another bus, their commute time could be extended to well over the average.
Paying for these services can also get expensive, particularly if a person needs to travel five or more days a week. A local 31-day pass is $96 and can only be purchased through the app or with a GoPass Tap Card. A regional pass costs $192, which can also only be purchased through the app or with the tap card.
Even if people didn’t want to use a car, Dallas scores poorly for both walking and riding bikes.
According to Walk Score, a site that provides general ease of transportation scores for cities and neighborhoods across the U.S., Dallas’ walk score is 46 and bike score is 49. The overall transit score is 39, all out of 100. Compared with New York, the No. 1 city for transit (with a score of 89), Dallas is 50 points behind.
And if a person doesn’t have a job but is looking for one, the expense combined with few options for walking or biking can be prohibitive. How do you find a job to pay for your travel when you can’t afford the travel to find it?
Through this program, Lyft might help fill a need for the Dallas' unemployed, which is one of a series of programs they collectively call LyftUp. Through this, Lyft and their affiliates can provide rides for people who need the COVID-19 vaccine, groceries or who would like to vote.
For the Jobs Access program, Lyft teamed up with Goodwill and United Way, which are paying for the rides from Lyft through a credit system, with each credit worth $30.
This service is provided in 35 cities across the U.S., including Dallas, and a person must qualify for the program in order to get the free rides. First, they need to answer a few short questions on the Lyft site and provide an email address. They will then be taken to a Goodwill page to get further information on how to apply.
The Goodwill site explains the process of how to qualify for the credit program. “To obtain a transportation credit, you must fit one of the three qualifications, including needing transportation to a job interview, weeklong training or to your first two weeks of a new job as well as meet any career and/or employment service criteria outlined by your local Goodwill,” it reads.
They continue that people can qualify for multiple credits as long as they meet the criteria.
The site also provides a list of 12 Goodwill locations, the closest to Dallas being in Denver, that can offer further assistance with a job service specialist. In order to offset these costs, paying riders may opt in to donate to these organizations through Lyft by rounding up the cost of every ride to the nearest dollar and donating the difference.
In any case, if you're holding your breath for more inclusive public transport, you might be waiting a while. (By the way, those rental scooters might not be back until 2023, according to the City Council.)