Clarification: The ride service pilot's trip fare is actually $20, with Meijer picking up half the tab. An earlier version of this story implied the total fare was $10.
Customers who live within five miles of either of Detroit's two Meijer stores are eligible for round-trip transportation for a fee to the stores through late March under a new ride service pilot program.
The offering comes from Cart, a University of Michigan startup that connects people to healthy, fresh groceries, in partnership with Lyft. The cost of the ride is $20, but Meijer is kicking in $10, leaving customers with a $10 tab.
“Cart’s goal is to connect individuals who do not have ready access to transportation with a safe, timely and low-priced round trip ride to a grocery store,” Cart CEO Stacey Matlen said in a news release touting the service. “Customers who spread the word about Cart to family and friends will be eligible to earn free trips to the store during the pilot.”
The rides are being offered through March 22.
Matlen, who graduated from UM last year and holds a master’s degree in public health, said the program began Sunday, and if it does well, could be continued and expanded to other grocery shops in Detroit. Organizers, she said, are also looking at offering the service in other Michigan cities, including Flint and Grand Rapids. Matlen on Tuesday did not release specific figures on how many users have taken part.
Customers who live within five miles of the Meijer stores, at 1301 W. Eight Mile and 21431 Grand River, can order rides between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. seven days per week from their smartphones at www.CartRides.com.
According to the website, shoppers can bring up to three passengers. Users may pay for the round trip ride at the store by scanning a barcode sent via text message at checkout.
Fifteen million Americans live in low-income areas more than a mile from a supermarket and don’t have access to a vehicle, according to UM. In Detroit, many individuals can spend five hours and $30 just to make a trip to a grocery store, the news release notes.
“We want to improve diets by increasing access to healthy, affordable food,” Matlen added. “Too many people living in food deserts have no choice but to shop at convenience stores that stock nonperishable food at a premium price.”