Transportation is crucial to ensure access to essential services such as medical care and grocery shopping. The availability of adequate transportation enables older persons to live independently in their communities, helps to prevent isolation and the possible need for long-term care placement. Many older people, who do not drive, must rely on family and friends to provide much of the transportation. But for others, it is necessary to find community resources to provide transportation, as this vital support service may be their only connection to the outside world.
Transportation services vary in communities depending upon where you live. Types of transportation that may be available for the elderly, is individual door-to-door service, fixed route with scheduled services, or ridesharing with volunteer drivers. A good place to start your search for transportation is your local Area Agency on Aging. In some communities the Area Agency on Aging arrange, monitor, and support programs that provide transportation for the elderly. Even if your local agency doesn't provide transportation services directly, they should be able to give assistance for finding help.
Whether you are looking for yourself, a family member or a friend, consider what type of service would best meet your needs. Door -to-door service refers to transportation from one specific location to another, requiring advanced notice. This type of service is based upon demand and allows the most flexibility. Fixed route and scheduled services transport riders along an established route with predetermined stops at designated locations. Although this service provides less flexibility and fees on a per-ride basis (that may be discounted for seniors), advanced reservations are not required. Ridesharing programs generally arrange for older persons needing rides to be transported to specific destinations such as senior centers, adult day care, and health-related appointments with volunteer drivers.
As mentioned, fees are usually required for many door-to-door services and on a fee per ride for fixed transportation services but often with senior discounted rates. Many communities have developed volunteer programs with minimal or no cost with the help and support of their local Area on Aging.
The National Transit Hotline can provide the names of local transit providers who receive federal money to provide transportation to the elderly and people with disabilities. Call Toll Free 1-800-527-8279.