SDOT, Lyft partner up to offer free and discounted rides

SEATTLE — The city of Seattle and Lyft are teaming up to provide free and discounted rides across the city, all the prevent drunk driving.

The initiative launched Wednesday night, in hopes of gaining word of mouth for a busy New Year’s Eve on Thursday.

Director of Seattle’s Department of Transportation Scott Kubly said there were about 500 DUI-related crashes in the city in 2014.

“Unfortunately every year, we generally start out with an impairment-related fatality on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day,” he said.

SDOT announced the partnership at the Comet Tavern on Capitol Hill, which, as a popular nightlife area, has one of the highest rates of DUI crashes in Seattle.

The city spent about $1,000 to help Lyft distribute cards and flyers it printed.

Lyft is providing $75,000 worth of discounted rides, offering $10 off up to five rides for each person.

“It’ll cover the great majority of everybody’s ride entirely,” Lyft Seattle general manager Todd Kelsay said. “You get your smart phone, you go to the designated web page, you put in your phone number, and it will do the rest.”

“I think that's great,” Lyft user Kristi Odell said. “It’s another opportunity to use Lyft and save.”

The cards will be handed out or available at about 150 bars in the city's most popular nightlife areas.

“They're the obvious party areas and it has to be either a ride from here or to here during the hours of 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.,” Kelsay said.

The areas are Ballard, Fremont, Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, Belltown, South Lake Union, and University District.

Capitol Hill and Belltown are the highest. SDOT said they have approximately 150 to 200 a year.

The green areas, which touch the other neighborhoods, have 50 or fewer DUI-related collisions a year.

Captain Paul McDonagh said this program is a step toward reducing the numbers.

“Every injury impacts more than one person,” he said. “It impacts their family, it impacts their friends. So if we can reduce it even by one, that's a win.”

The Lyft rides aren't just good for Wednesday night and New Year’s Eve; people can use the deals into 2016, as well.

It's all part of the city's Vision Zero program, aimed at ending traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.