If you’ve chosen to stop driving or you’re looking for alternative transportation options, plenty of services are available to help seniors get around. In this guide, we’ll review the pros and cons of different senior transportation options to help elderly get around, so you can decide which might be right for you.
Why might transportation needs for older adults change?
There are several reasons why senior citizens may choose to stop driving and require new senior transportation options, including:
- Medical changes and physical limitations, like arthritis, vision problems, decreased reaction times, or chronic health conditions
- Health concerns like heart disease or respiratory problems that, if the condition suddenly worsened, the person would not want to be behind the wheel of a car
- Certain medications like sedatives, antidepressants, or pain relievers that impair the ability to drive
- Cognitive changes that make it challenging to maintain safety on the road
- Anxiety while driving in heavy traffic, weather conditions, etc.
- Financial concerns, since fuel, maintenance, car payments, and insurance can be a cost burden
The boom of alternative senior transportation options is making it safer, more affordable, and more convenient than even owning and driving your own car. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of these alternatives to help seniors get around.
1. Friends + family
Having friends or family members help meet transportation needs for older adults is convenient and cost-effective. It’s familiar and comfortable because you know the driver, and you may have an easier time communicating your needs to a friend or family member than anyone else. They can help take you where you need to go, offering more flexibility with your schedule and destination locations. Having a friend help elderly get around can also be an excellent way to strengthen your relationship and spend more one-on-one time together.
With that said, there are some cons to relying on family and friends to help seniors get around:
- Dependence on others: You are dependent on them for your mobility. This can create a loss of independence and autonomy, and it can become a problem if the driver is unavailable or you have a sudden change of plans.
- Inconvenience for the driver: Your loved one likely has other commitments as well, so they may begin to feel stressed or strained by trying to meet your needs too.
- Physical demands: Getting in and out of a vehicle can be physically demanding. Your loved one may not be able to help with the physical transportation needs for older adults. Their vehicle also may not have the safety and accessibility features you require, especially if you use a wheelchair or walker.
- Safety concerns: Your loved one may be a good driver, but they might not have the level of training or experience of a professional driver. This can also be a safety concern if they have any medical conditions themselves.
Using friends and family to get around can be fun and comfortable, but you should have other senior transportation options in case your loved one can’t take you where you need to go for whatever reason.
2. Public transportation
If public transportation in your area is reliable, you may find it’s the most affordable way to meet the transportation needs for older adults. A lot of public transit systems offer discounts and special rates regarding senior transportation options, making it an even more economical choice.
Moreover, public transit is purposefully made to be convenient and help seniors get around. You don’t have to worry about parking, and most bus and train lines will take you to different stops throughout the city. Public transit can also be an opportunity to socialize, people-watch, and meet new folks.
However, there are some drawbacks to public transit to help elderly get around:
- Not all public transit may have accessible features like lifts, ramps, or designated seating for people with disabilities.
- Public transit can be physically demanding. You may have to walk to and from bus stops, navigate stairs, climb on and off a bus, carry bags, and more.
- You are stuck to the public transit schedule. You must plan your trips around the bus and train times, and sudden changes in plans can be disastrous. This also may mean longer transit times and more transfers, which can be exhausting and physically demanding.
- The quality of service can vary. Some drivers might be friendly, others not so much. Some buses are clean and new, while others are poorly maintained. You want the cleanest, safest senior transportation options whenever possible.
- There are lots of safety concerns on public transit. Crowding, theft, crimes, and seating availability mean busses and trains may not be the best option to meet the transportation needs for older adults.
3. Senior shuttles and paratransit services
Paratransit services are a form of public transportation designed to meet the transportation needs for older adults and those with disabilities. Senior shuttle services are other senior transportation options like government paratransit lines, but they may be run privately through a nonprofit or organization.
Paratransit and senior shuttle services can be a great way to help elderly get around:
- Accessibility: These services are designed to accommodate seniors with disabilities. They’re usually equipped with ramps, lifts, and other safety features.
- Convenience: They may offer door-to-door transportation, which is helpful for those seniors who have difficulty navigating public transit.
- Flexibility: There may be some flexibility with where and when you go, depending on which shuttle line you use.
- Safety: Paratransit drivers are trained to help elderly get around safely from pickup to drop off.
Paratransit and senior shuttles can help meet the transportation needs for older adults, but there are some cons to these senior transportation options too:
- Limited coverage: These services may not be available in all areas. They may also only have a designated roster of places they are allowed to drop off.
- Scheduling limitations: Some shuttles can schedule rides, while others are on a set schedule. Additionally, the wait time for paratransit services tends to be longer than other senior transportation options, which can be troublesome if you’re trying to get to a doctor’s appointment or a timely event.
- Technology: Some paratransit services require apps or websites to book. If you don’t like using these technologies, this can be irksome when trying to address the transportation needs for older adults.
- Cost: Paratransit programs are usually more expensive than public transit and volunteer driver programs.
4. Volunteer driver programs
Some local organizations, nonprofits, or governments may offer volunteer driver programs that help elderly get around. These are generally run and operated by volunteers donating their time and vehicles to help meet the transportation needs for older adults. These may be one-on-one services – just you and the driver – or they may function like a shuttle service. These are safe, fun senior transportation options if you’re looking to go to appointments, run errands, or attend social activities.
The biggest advantage of these programs is the volunteer drivers themselves. The volunteers are generally safe, kind people offering these services simply because they want to help seniors get around safely! These rides include a lot of friendly conversation and support. They’re a wonderful way to meet the basic transportation needs for older adults while building meaningful relationships with friendly faces. These senior transportation options are usually run through local organizations like churches or senior centers, so it’s a great way to foster community as well.
These programs also tend to be low- or no-cost, making them an attractive option for seniors on a fixed income who are looking to meet the transportation needs for older adults in an economical way.
Taxis are another option to help elderly get around. Taxis give freedom of movement that shuttle services and public transportation don’t, so adults can have the independence to go wherever they like, whenever they want. Some seniors like taxis because they can pay in cash, have freedom of movement, and schedule their taxi rides in advance.
However, traditional taxis may also have some disadvantages that don’t necessarily help elderly get around safely:
- Convenience: If taxis are not readily available in your city, you may not be able to get a cab quickly or when you need it.
- Professionalism: Taxis are not always reliable, professional, and safe. You don’t know who you are getting into the car with, and this kind of uncertainty can be dangerous.
- Safety: In a taxi, no one tracks your ride or watches where you’re going. You are essentially on your own. Safety should be the number one factor when considering senior transportation options.
- Reliability: Taxis may not have effective GPS services to find your exact pickup and drop-off locations. These kinds of errors can be critical for adults with disabilities.
- Cost: While many taxi companies are great, others are known for overcharging and taking advantage of senior citizens.
6. Ridesharing services
Ridesharing, like Uber and Lyft, is when a private driver picks up passengers in their own car, arranged through a website or app. You use the app to call a car, the driver picks you up and clarifies your name, and then they help seniors get around wherever you want to go.
The advantages of ridesharing services are like those of taxis. Unlike public transportation, ridesharing gives you freedom of movement. You can go wherever you like at any time of day. This level of autonomy and comfort is often a critical aspect of the transportation needs for older adults.
There are also some additional advantages that Uber is launching for seniors. For example, the Uber Health platform helps healthcare organizations arrange rides and services on behalf of their patients. The goal is to give people better access to healthcare services and help seniors get around more safely.
However, ridesharing may not address all the transportation needs for older adults:
- Technology: Most rideshare platforms use phone apps. If you do not like using a smartphone or don’t know how to work the app, this can be a significant and confusing learning curve.
- Physical accessibility: Not all cars on rideshare apps will be accessible for those with disabilities and/or require mobility aids. These cars may not be equipped with certain safety features like handrails or ramps.
- Safety concerns: Although ridesharing companies run background checks, these are not the most intensive checks. Many people feel uncomfortable getting into a stranger’s car, especially when no one is looking out for them.
- Scheduling difficulties: Ridesharing apps can have critical failures. The cars may not show up, or they might go to the wrong place, and there is no accountability for the drivers. If you have a doctor’s or time-sensitive appointment, you need flawless scheduling to meet the transportation needs for older adults.
- Cost: Ridesharing services are generally more expensive than other senior transportation options that help seniors get around, like public transit, volunteer driver programs, and GoGoRides. Moreover, costs can fluctuate dramatically based on demand and availability, so a ride that is $10 one day could be $15 the next. This makes budgeting for transportation more challenging.
Does Uber give a discount to seniors?
Uber and Lyft usually do not offer reduced-rate senior transportation options. However, you can keep your eye out for different promotions to try to snag a deal on rides that help elderly get around.
8. GoGoGrandparent Rides
The founders of GoGoGrandparent wanted to maintain all the advantages of the basic senior transportation options – while addressing all the disadvantages. They were concerned about their own grandparents being able to catch safe, reliable, professional rides in a way that was affordable and convenient. That’s why they created GoGoRides to help elderly get around.
GoGoRides addresses the cons of traditional public transit and ridesharing:
- Autonomy: You can go where you want, when you want. You have freedom of movement and the convenience of owning your own car – without having all the hassle of actually owning a car.
- Technology: You just call our dial-in service and chat with a friendly operator to get a car sent to you. You don’t have to deal with a smartphone app or website to have senior transportation options right at your fingertips. This is one of our clients’ favorite features to help meet the transportation needs for older adults.
- Flexibility: You can have a driver at your door in less than 15 minutes or schedule rides in advance.
- Familiarity: GoGoGrandparent partners with well-known ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, so you know you are getting professional drivers. However, we take it one step further with our GogoGuardians.
- Accessibility and safety: Our GoGoGuardians vet and screen drivers, so we only work with pre-approved, safe drivers whose vehicles meet accessibility needs.
- Safety: Our GoGoGuardians also monitor requests and track your ride. This means someone always has your back and knows where you are, so you can sit back and relax.
- Family Features: Our unique Family Features dashboard allows your loved ones and caregivers to track, monitor, and pay for your rides if they like. This gives you and your family peace of mind to know you’re well cared for.
- Learn more about GoGoRides here.
GoGoGrandparent offers older adults autonomy, freedom, comfort, and professionalism. Register now and find out for yourself why GoGoGrandparent is the number one choice for hundreds of thousands to help seniors get around.