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Military bases are a difficult place for ride-hailing riders and drivers alike.
Restricted access often means pick-ups and drop-offs at faraway entry gates, and it can be a logistical mess for drivers trying to find someone.
Lyft announced Tuesday a pilot program with the Department of Defense to make it easier for thousands of military members to request a ride.
“Base mode” is rolling out at Camp Pendleton’s Marine Corps training facility in Southern California so drivers who have access to the base will be matched to passengers within the base. Most drivers who have access are other service members, spouses, or retired veterans. Eligible drivers will be able to turn on base mode within the app.
At Maryland’s Fort Meade, selected Lyft drivers will be pre-screened to gain access to the base so that the 12,000 residents can get around without their own vehicle.
For a long time, bases have been shut off from the alternate transit option. There’s even a Reddit thread all about the trials and travails of Uber drivers at military bases.
When are they gonna put a “this is a military base you need access to it” option on lyft. I’m tired of this 😂
— pazey 👸🏻 (@adriannapazey) August 8, 2017
Alternate options have cropped up because of restricted Lyft and Uber services available, like this shuttle service.
“Uber / Lyft does not have base access. Get picked up and dropped off on base! Call Bryan retired military veteran 228-209-6945 Hire smart hire VETS! Gulfport, New Orleans Mobile and Pensacola Airports” #FoursquareFind @ Cole Manor https://t.co/n78hPbcYjG
— Keesler Taxi Cab Shuttle Service (@bryaninbiloxi) May 8, 2018
Lyft competitor Uber has been dealing with this same issue for years as well, as evidenced by that Reddit thread and social media posts, including delivery complications with UberEats. UberMilitary is a program for service members to drive for Uber and also includes a pilot program with access to some bases like in Honolulu. In other places, like Oklahoma City, Uber suggests drivers call the rider or ask them to cancel the ride when requests come in from a military base.
Other more informal methods work, like Uber’s suggestion to find an Uber driver with a military ID or meet your driver at the gate.
If the driver of the Uber has military i.d. they can enter a military base. If they do not, they can meet the rider at the gate.
— Uber Support (@Uber_Support) April 11, 2017
But it’s still a struggle. Some locations are just very difficult for Uber and Lyft’s services to work properly. Just look at other restricted places like airports: San Francisco International Airport officials are still trying to figure out a solution to the clogged pick-up and drop-off zones, even after the airport implemented a $3.80 airport fee and permit process in 2014.
Getting access to restricted places isn’t always as simple as slapping on an extra fee, but these pilot programs at military bases can still bring frustrated riders and drivers some commuting relief.