By Mandy Mitchell| Originally published June 18, 2018 on www.wral.com
DURHAM, N.C. — A nonprofit group in the Triangle that worked with a technology class in Durham has created a ride-sharing app for families whose relatives have battled homelessness but still need help with transportation.
The “Ride Together” app was developed by Crystal Williams-Brown, a student of the “Code the Dream” program, which aims to help minority and needy youngsters get a foothold in the sprawling high-tech sector.
Williams-Brown said she struggled to find transportation while trying move into the workforce after graduating college.
“I know when I was struggling to find work, I didn’t have a car, (and) I didn’t have money,” she said. “That’s something you need to change your circumstance, a way to get to the place so you can pay for the car.”
That’s why she decided to create a ride-sharing app for “Families Together,” a group in Raleigh that specializes in helping homeless people find independence.
“Studies have shown that transportation is one of the reasons families in poverty stay in poverty,” said Meghan Olesen, a community engagement coordinator.
The app was designed to work like traditional ride-sharing apps used by Uber and Lyft, but there is no cost to those who use it. The app’s drivers are volunteers who sign up to donate their time.
“So, essentially the volunteer will sign up (and then) put in their availability, just like they would in a Google calendar,” Olesen said.
The families then request a ride by submitting a time and place they would like to go.
Helena Harris said she plans to use the “Ride Together” app in order to get a ride to work. She currently relies on the city’s public bus system, which can take hours to transport passengers.
“If the bus is late, the first thing you do is say you are going to be late,” Harris said. “The first thing they say is, ‘How late?'”
Using the Ride Together app, Harris can request a ride at a specific time, which means she may be able to find a better job.
“I could go further for work (and) be more available for work,” she said. “That would let me have more money.”
Families Together is looking for additional volunteers who are willing to provide transportation to those in need. For more information, go to Familiestogethernc.org.