D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Even in an era when Uber and Lyft have poured billions of dollars into subsidizing their customers’ travel, officials in the District have come up with an eye-popping transportation deal for people in some of the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods.

The city is offering free three-mile taxi rides for residents and visitors to buy groceries at Safeway, Giant, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods and a Martha’s Table food pantry in Wards 7 and 8, or across the Anacostia River in Ward 6. Libraries, pools and recreation centers in Wards 7 and 8 are also part of the expanded pilot program for subsidized taxi rides set to run through the end of September.

Before Thursday’s policy shift, the city’s “Taxi-to-Rail” pilot was limited to trips to or from eight Metro stations east of the Anacostia in the District and Maryland. The city added two stops Thursday — the Navy Yard and Potomac Avenue Metro stations. But program backers say the bigger change is the broadening of the pilot to include grocery stores and public facilities. Supporters say that will spur an effort that has lagged since its launch in May.

“I think that’s going to add the extra flavor. That’s really the constituency you’re trying to get: people that need to do these short runs and have no other way to get it done,” said Roy D. Spooner, the general manager of Yellow Cab Company of D.C., one of two taxi companies taking part in the pilot.

The city will pay the first $10 of the taxi fare, which Spooner said covers about 3.5 to 4 miles, and officials have budgeted $65,000 for the pilot. So far, just over 100 rides have been taken in the pilot, D.C. and taxi officials said. The program has no income or residency requirements.

Those using the service must be going to or from one of the listed store locations, public facilities or Metro stations and cannot simply be traveling from home to a friend’s house, city officials said. Rides can be booked via Taxi2Rail.com, the ezRidr app, or by calling 202-727-3827.

“We wanted to make sure that those neighborhoods and residents who don’t have a car don’t need to carry those groceries for a long period of time. We also wanted to make sure they could connect to the freshest and most nutritious foods as possible,” said David Do, director of the District’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles.

In a statement, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said “building a more equitable and affordable transportation system is essential to providing all residents with pathways to the middle class.”

“In addition to providing free Circulator [bus] rides and expanding Circulator routes into Ward 7, the Taxi-to-Rail program is another investment we’re making to help working families access the services and amenities they need,” Bowser said.

But Bowser’s free Circulator program is set to end Sept. 30, after members of the D.C. Council raised financial objections and voted to end it.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) said she is concerned the Taxi-to-Rail program “may not be well thought out or well designed.”

“I wish I knew what problem this was designed to solve: more use of Metro, better mobility for people without means, work for taxis?” Cheh said. “Why not something that is means-tested if it’s for low-income people,” for example by requiring that users be receiving government benefits, she said.

Do said there have been justified complaints from residents that taxis were avoiding their neighborhoods.

“I want to show Wards 7 and 8 residents that the taxi industry has changed and is going to be there and available for residents east of the river,” Do said. He said he does not think people will abuse the program, in part because you can’t go long distances with a $10 subsidy. “This is a pilot, at the end of the day. We’re going to see where it goes. There’s always opportunity to change it over time.”