Some D.C. health care workers now have a new way to get to work.
Mayor Muriel Bowser is repurposing the DC Neighborhood Connect service to provide on-demand rides for two hospitals during the coronavirus crisis. Essential health care workers at Howard University Hospital and United Medical Center can use the service at night, when public transportation is especially limited.
D.C.’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles, Via, and Transco are using the DC Neighborhood Connect app.
DFHV Agency Director David Do said he’s excited about the program and its progress.
“What has happened has been truly amazing. In the first few days, we only had a couple riders and that has grown exponentially since the start of this program,” he said.
The ride service will run from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. for a flat rate of $3 per ride.
Via’s head of global operations, Alex Lavoie, said the on-demand ride service provides the flexibility health care workers need.
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“What on-demand public service does in general is it allows the city to provide transportation cost-effectively at times when it might not be cost-effective to run a bus. By easily verifying who the riders are on the app before they take a trip, it can create a service that is dedicated to those essential workers,” he said.
Typically, DC Neighborhood Connect only serves Wards 4, 5 and 8. But it’s now going to cover all of D.C., all of Prince George’s County and part of Montgomery County.
To get a ride, health care workers will need to enter in the app a ride code provided by their hospital.
A maximum of three health care workers will be allowed in each car to maintain proper social distancing. Per the mayor’s stay-at-home order, drivers and riders are required to wear face masks.