By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Joel from Apple Valley works at Freddy’s, and Marilynn works at the Burnsville ChickFilA. And thanks to a new pilot program, they both use Lyft.

“Before I took Lyft, I was on the bus for up to two hours per ride and I’m less than five minutes from where I live,” Marilynn said.

It’s a program that started when Dakota County social service workers noticed a trend among people with disabilities.

“Transportation has typically been a big barrier for people to get jobs or get the jobs they want,” Robyn Bernardy, transportation coordinator for Dakota County said.

Lyft agreed to partner and they launched the first ever program that allows people with disabilities to use Lyft and get billed directly to Medicaid.

Users are trained to operate the apps themselves.

“The feedback that we’ve been getting both from the individuals who are taking Lyft and from their caregivers, their families has been amazingly positive. It’s opened up a whole new world to them as far as getting to work where they want,” Bernardy said.

Joel can now get to work and get to the gym for Zumba, and Merrilynn can now easily get to work and do a little shopping.

“You deserve to get out and broaden your horizon and see what’s out there instead of being stuck in the mud,” Marilynn said.

After all, they have places to go.

The staff says they are already hearing from other counties that are interested in the program. They say the hope is that this program will continue to grow.

Dakota County is also working with Lyft to get more accessible vehicles on the roads.

To learn more click here.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield