Lyft concierge pilot program to end

By Mickey Thaxton
Associate Executive Director

In September 2017 Riderwood began a pilot project with the ridesharing company Lyft. The purpose of the initiative was to study, on a small scale and for a short period of time, how a ridesharing company like Lyft could benefit the community for non-emergency transportation needs.

The pilot was initially to last through the end of 2017. However, in an effort to fully understand the long-term feasibility of the partnership the trial period was extended to September 2018.

The main feature of the pilot was a concierge service that allowed residents to contact either a front-desk communications specialist or the Transportation Department and arrange a ride; each request included a $3.00 administrative fee in addition to the actual cost of the ride to compensate staff for the time spent scheduling and facilitating the ride.

Over the course of the year-long trial, the community requested 152 rides per month on average. Of those 152 rides requests, a core group of about 30 to 35 residents consistently made use of the service. From a population of more than 2,100 in independent living, this is not a particularly high usage rate.

Rideshare services are designed to work best with customers who have a smartphone that acts as a pickup location beacon for drivers in the areas. One of the challenges the Transportation and front-desk teams faced was arranging the pickup of residents from off-campus locations for a return home to Riderwood; a challenge made all the greater by the fact that most residents who used the concierge service did so because they did not own a smartphone or did not use the Lyft application. At times staff could spend anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes tracking drivers, communicating with residents, and rescheduling missed pick-ups.

Perhaps the greatest challenge we encountered was in the area of customer service.  Riderwood residents have come to expect a high level of personalized service from our Transportation team. When those expectations were not met, it was Riderwood’s Communications and Transportation teams that worked to address any dissatisfaction with service.

Because of low usage and the time required by front-desk and Transportation department staff members, the concierge program has been discontinued. Despite the conclusion of this pilot project, please be assured that both Lyft and Uber drivers are still operating on campus and that their services can be arranged through individual accounts. If you have any further questions, please contact the Transportation office at
(301)572-8358.

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