Aging In Place

1/12/2023 | By Terri L. Jones

If you can’t drive anymore, you may feel like independence has left you at the curb. But you can still hitch a ride with these five transportation options for seniors. Get out and go!

After decades of driving, you may be forced to hang up your car keys, due to vision problems, slower reflexes, mobility issues, or a variety of other reasons. Or perhaps you’re just tired of driving yourself around!

But how are you supposed to get around without your car? Beyond hitting up considerate family members, friends and neighbors for rides or calling a taxi, there are a variety of senior-friendly transportation options out there to help you get from here to there. Some even offer help with getting in and out of the vehicle and carrying packages as well as accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

Try these transportation options for seniors

  1. Dial-a-Ride/Paratransit

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that cities with public transit provide transportation service for those who are unable to use the standard fixed routes. Known as dial-a-ride, paratransit, or ADA paratransit, these services are door-to-door or curb-to curb, shared, and available to seniors and passengers with a disability. (You must apply to determine eligibility).

Supplementing fixed-route transit, most of these services are restricted to three-quarters of a mile around the public transportation’s regular routes with vehicles able to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Fares for ADA paratransit cannot be more than double the standard fixed-rate fare (non-ADA services may vary) and all dial-a-ride and paratransit transportation require advance scheduling.

  1. Independent Transportation Network (ITN)

Another transportation option for seniors is the Independent Transportation Network. Using paid and volunteer drivers, ITN offers shared or private, 24/7, door-through-door (helping seniors inside the house or building) service. Drivers may even assist with bags, mobility devices or other items carried by the passenger. In addition to the individual cost for rides, a membership fee is required, but in most areas, seniors can donate their car to receive credit toward future rides. Rides can be booked same day. Currently, this network is only available in select states.

Related: When should a senior stop driving?

  1. Nonprofit programs

Using a network of volunteer drivers, many local nonprofit organizations offer seniors flexible, non-shared transportation options for shopping, doctors’ appointments, recreation, and other activities. You may pay a nominal fee for the ride or offer a donation to the organization. Advance scheduling is required.

  1. Ridesharing
Older woman holding a basket, getting help into a van. Image by Rainer Klotz for article on transportation options for seniors.

If Uber and Lyft operate in your area, these programs allow you to request a ride exactly when you need it (no advance reservations necessary). And despite the moniker “ridesharing,” you won’t have to share the vehicle with anyone, except the driver!

You must use an app to schedule your ride. However, if that doesn’t work for you, you can use GoGoGrandparent.com: call an automated phone line and operators will schedule your Uber or Lyft ride for you for an extra “concierge” fee. Uber and Lyft also offer assisted rides for passengers who need help getting in and out of the vehicle, and Uber has vehicles that are wheelchair accessible in specific markets.

  1. Other options

Some hospitals, health clinics, senior centers, adult day centers, businesses, or agencies that provide companionship to seniors may offer transportation services to their patients or customers. Rides to the doctor for non-emergency medical treatment are even covered by some Medicare Advantage plans. Check your plan to determine if it offers this transportation benefit.

To find transportation resources in your area, consult your local Area Agency on Aging or eldercare.gov. You can also check with your state department of transportation or the American Public Transportation Association to locate the ride services available to you.

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide. She also writes for many other local magazines and publications.

Terri Jones