When driving is no longer an option, there are alternatives.
Doctor’s appointments. Running errands. Social activities with friends and family. There are a number of reasons why an older person living independently might require transportation, especially if driving themselves is no longer a viable option.
For some seniors, staying active is important to their health and lifestyle, so being able to leave the house can be more of a necessity than a luxury.
If an older person is either unable or unwilling to drive on their own, and a friend or family member is unavailable, there are services available to meet their transportation needs.
Taxis are the most basic form of private transportation, but they are more common to large cities, so it will depend on if such a service is available in your area. In the absence of an extensive public transportation system, a taxi can be the most convenient solution.
The cost will be variable, depending on the distance to the destination.
There are likely more expensive private car services that can be arranged for assistance on a consistent basis, but again it will depend on what is available in your area.
Paratransit, typically either a bus or a taxi cab, is a form of public transportation specifically geared toward seniors and others with limited mobility. It typically follows the same routes as your local public transit, but can pick passengers up at their own homes.
In order to utilize this method of public transportation, a senior must first qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The exact qualifications vary in different areas, but ultimately the senior must show how their mobility issues prohibit them from using regular public transit.
Whether it is a bus, subway or train, public transportation can be a simple and cost effective solution for a senior’s transportation needs, if readily available in their area. Most single rides cost around $2.00, and buses are wheelchair-accessible with priority seating for the elderly.
But there are potential drawbacks to using public transportation. Depending on how far a senior lives from the nearest bus or train stop -- or how close their destination is to a stop -- walking could represent a challenge, especially in inclement weather. The fixed route schedule could also present an obstacle if the senior needs to be somewhere at a specific time.
Local Rideshare Programs
There may be transportation companies and nonprofit organizations that provide transportation services specific to your area, with some run by staff and volunteers and funded through grants and donations. Consult with your local Area Agency on Aging for a list of local providers.
ITN America is one example of a nonprofit organization that provides senior-specific transportation services, enlisting paid and volunteer drivers for door-to-door 24/7 service.
Big Ridesharing Companies
Popular ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are among the newest innovations in public transportation. The carpool feature keeps the cost down by picking up multiple people at the same time and then driving them to their various destinations.
But these companies also require the use of a smartphone for their services, so they are best suited to tech savvy seniors who know how to operate the different apps.