As I wrote in Senior Transportation: Wake Up Call, there probably is not a cookie cutter transportation system for the elderly in your area. You are going to have to put together a plan on your own based upon local services and agencies. The following is a list of the types of transportation that you should investigate.
Types of Transportation
Family & Friends
Family and Friends may be able to help you with most of your transportation needs. It may not be the most convenient for you. It certainly will not be convenient for them.
If you want your family and friends to keep coming around, find ways to compensate them for their time and expenses. You may be able to barter something you can do in exchange for their generosity. To remove emotional pressure from your relationships, do your own research into alternative forms of transportation for those times when they may not be available. You may prefer traveling with the help of those you know, but you will better maintain your autonomy by developing alternate ways to get around.
Door-through-Door Escort Service
Private agencies and services may provide drivers and escorts to help passengers with physical or mental disabilities. These services provide some or all of the following:
- Personal, hand-on assistance thought the doors of homes and destinations.
- Opening doors
- Verbal guidance
- Physical support
- Wheelchair assistance
These services can be expensive, ranging from $16/hour to $60/trip.
These services provide transportation using small buses and vans. These companies may market themselves as private ambulance services. Check with aging agencies, private organizations, and public transportation services. Reservations are usually required but there is some flexibility in scheduling.
There are two basic types of pickup and delivery:
1. Curb-to-curb provides for pickup and delivery at the curb or roadside.
2. Door-to-door offers more assistance. They pick up at the passenger’s door and drop off at the door of the passenger’s destination.
Cost can range from free to extremely expensive.
You must call a dispatcher for a particular taxi service to request a ride to , from, and between locations. You may need to schedule in advance, but you can usually make a reservation on short notice. If you need wheelchair access, ask the service if they have that capability. Companies charge a base fee, plus per mile or a per minute. It may be possible to use a transportation voucher. Ask each provider individually.
Public Transportation/Mass Transit/Public Transit
Established routes with set schedules without reservations. These are usually buses or trains. Most offer reduced fares and additional transportation services for persons with disabilities as well as older adults.
Free instruction is available to teach travel safety and independence within the public transit systems. This training includes the following information.
- Best routes
- Hours of service
- How to pay (fare cares, vouchers, tokens, cash)
Call you public transit agency for local information.
Volunteer driver programs may be available in your area to provide one-way, round-trip, and multi-stop rides. Check with local non-profits and faith-based organizations. These programs can be accessed for shopping, medical appointments, recreation, and a variety of other purposes.
Payment can be by donation, through membership dues, or for a small cost. Some programs are free.
Start by asking people you know for suggestions. Then look into assistance programs.
Transportation Voucher Programs
Fare assistance for poor older adults may be available in the form of vouchers. You can buy the transportation vouchers at a reduced rate. Participating providers might include any of the following:
- Private Companies
- Volunteer Programs
- Public Transit
Applications are required and individuals must make their own reservations.
National and Local Public Agencies
Check out the following public agencies. You will have to check locally for some of the agency contact numbers:Eldercare Locator (free national service) 800-677-1116 www.eldercare.gov National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST) (free national resource) 866-528-NCST (6278) www.seniortranportation.net Local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) Indian Tribal Organization