Top Transportation Options for Seniors and Boomers.
Americans are healthier than ever before, resulting in an average life expectancy of 78 years. With many seniors and boomers retiring by age 63 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016) – and having retirement last an average of 18 years – that’s a lot of time to have free to enjoy the things you want out of life.
While Americans may be healthier and living longer, that doesn’t mean they are capable of continuing to safely drive. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), seniors and boomers are outliving their ability to drive by as much as a decade. While many older drivers recognize when they have conditions that prevent them from safely driving, others may continue to drive out of necessity, especially in areas where public transportation may not be readily available or where including the cost of public transportation doesn’t fit into a tight budget.
Seniors who live close to friends or family members can consider asking them for assistance when they need to make occasional trips to places like the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment. Seniors and boomers who do not live close to friends or family members have other options. Let’s discuss a few of them.
Option #1 – Public Transportation
One would think that, being 2017, most major cities and their suburbs would have reliable, affordable public transportation options available to residents. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the states with the best public transportation options are: Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Calif., Boston, Mass., Chicago, Il., New York, NY, Seattle, Wash., Jersey City, N.J., Pittsburgh, Pa., Philadelphia, Pa. and Oakland, Calif.
The kind of public transportation available is dependent on the area in which you live. Some cities have buses, trains and subways, while others may only have one of the three available to residents. Some cities also offer free or reduced-price fares for seniors, so be sure to ask if yours is one of them.
If you live in an area where public transportation is available, and you plan to take at least one trip weekly, it may be the most cost-efficient option to purchase a pass. Most public transportation systems offer weekly and monthly passes to residents. If you’ve never taken public transportation before, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to go along for your first journey. If you know someone who regularly uses public transportation, it’s an even better idea to ask for their assistance on your first attempt.
Option #2 – Ride-Hailing Services
While most major cities have at least one taxi service, they can be pricey. However, seniors and boomers who like the idea of hiring a personal driver – without the expense of a taxi – may wish to consider trying a ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft.
Both companies have been offering ride-hailing services in a variety of locations for the last four years, with their primary target audience being millennials. However, both Lyft and Uber announced in August 2016 that they would be launching programs specifically aimed at seniors and boomers who prefer to let someone else do the driving.
Unlike with other riders, Lyft and Uber are not requiring seniors and boomers to use their apps to book a ride, or to even have an account before being able to hail a driver. Both are now working with call centers in various places throughout the U.S. to allow seniors to pick up any telephone and call for a ride, much in the same way they would do with a taxi.
Ride-hailing services can be a great and affordable option for seniors. Both companies have stringent requirements for drivers, including full background checks and criteria for the kind of vehicles they must use in order to be a driver with their companies.
Option #3 – Resident Transportation Services
Seniors and boomers who live in retirement communities or nursing homes may have the option of taking transportation provided by their place of residence.
Most retirement communities and nursing homes provide transportation to places like grocery stores, malls and even nights out on the town at least once per week. The majority of retirement communities and nursing homes that provide transportation services to residents do so at no additional charge. Some will even provide an escort to go along with residents who may need additional help grocery shopping or going to a doctor’s appointment. Be sure to ask your community or nursing home director if transportation services are available.
Option #4 – Specialty Services
If you are a retired U.S. veteran, you may be eligible for free transportation services through the Veterans Transportation Service. This service, which is operated by the Veterans Administration, provides rides to VA facilities at no cost to qualifying veterans.
Some cities also have private veterans’ organizations that provide transportation services to and from all sorts of appointments, as well as for everyday errands and grocery shopping. Check with the veterans’ organizations in your area to see if they provide these services.
Have a tip for reliable, affordable transportation options for seniors and boomers in your area? We’d love for you to share them in the comments.