Nearly everyone relies on transportation to perform everyday activities. These needs don’t change with age, but access to senior transportation is often limited by both availability and cost.
Senior transportation prices vary depending on the company and how they charge for their services. Companies may charge by the hour, per ride, or even through monthly subscription charges. Transportation prices can range from upwards of $50 per hour to as little as less than $10 per ride.
Depending on which transportation service program you use, senior transportation can be exorbitant or surprisingly affordable. Some programs offer flat rates while others calculate prices on factors such as distance. Luckily, there are many different transportation options that are available to older adults. This makes it easier to find an affordable service that fits your budget.
Budgeting For The Cost of Senior Transportation
There’s no set price range when it comes to senior transportation. This can be frustrating when searching for a senior transportation company that fits in your budget. But ultimately, this is a benefit, since it means that there are plenty of options for you even if some are outside your financial comfort zone.
The price of senior transportation can change depending on several factors, including:
- The type of transportation company (who you pay)
- Transportation and additional services offered (what you pay for)
- Service charges and pricing models (how you pay)
As a rule, publicly-run services usually cost less than those that are owned by private companies. Companies that offer more comprehensive and targeted senior assistance usually cost more. Services that are more generalized or open to a wider range of audiences cost less. Similarly, companies that charge per hour may cost more than companies that charge strictly per ride.
There are a few different ways that companies charge seniors for their transportation services.
More common pricing models include:
- Many services charge per ride. Some companies will increase the price proportionally to the distance you travel. Plenty of others offer flat rates just for riding. Additional fees based on tolls, extra stops, etc. may or may not be included.
- Hourly charges are present in almost every industry, and senior transportation is no exception. Many transportation companies charge by the hour, which can be more practical if they offer additional services.
- Though not as common, some transportation companies offer membership packages and charge monthly or annual fees. Depending on how often you may use transportation and how far you travel, this can be much more economical.
Ride Plans/ Passes
- This is similar to membership pricing options, except users pay for a pre-determined number of rides or services instead of a pre-determined period of time. Usually, different plans or pass options are available for users’ transportation needs.
Most companies have information about their pricing available on their website, either on a specific page or in their FAQs. If pricing isn’t available, use the listed contact information to call and inquire about how much their services would cost. Though it can take time, you’ll be able to easily compare prices and find the transportation option that works best for you.
Why Do Seniors Need Transportation?
Many senior citizens can’t drive themselves because of failing eyesight, decreased motor control, and other issues. Driving a vehicle would be dangerous for themselves and other people on the road. Because of this, seniors are reliant on other types of transportation.
Seniors need transportation for a wide variety of reasons, including:
- Going to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, and other medical-related events
- Arriving at and returning home from a part-time or full-time job
- Buying groceries, cleaning supplies, and other necessary household items
- Performing civic duties such as voting and serving as a jury member
- Participating in religious observance or activities at churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.
- Maintaining regular personal hygiene through appointments like haircuts
- Socializing with friends and family in private or public spaces
- Staying active in the community by volunteering, attending local events, etc.
These are just a few reasons why seniors may need access to some sort of transportation. Think of how many times you use your own vehicle or public transportation. Almost everything you need to travel for is the same for seniors.
Transportation is essential for seniors who want to maintain their independence. It can also be crucial for their health, especially if they have no nearby relatives or friends who can provide transportation and otherwise care for them.
Transportation Options for Seniors
There are many senior transportation options. They can be public or private and vary in price depending on their services and specialties. Some specifically operate for older adults, while others can accommodate seniors but are open to riders of all ages. Each service has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Public transportation is funded by the city or state. It includes transport options such as buses, light rails, subways, shuttles, trams, ferries, boats, and even trains. They usually offer rides at a low cost based on a per-ride basis or through purchased passes. However, riding public transportation can take longer depending on its availability in your city.
Paratransit or dial-a-ride transportation is specifically catered toward those with mobility limitations and older adults. They are usually busses that are equipped to handle wheelchairs and other aid devices.
However, you can only ride paratransit if you quality under the Americans With Disabilities Act. You must prove you’re not able to ride public transportation for a viable reason.
As its name suggests, this type of transportation is entirely volunteer-run. It may be arranged by nationwide, state, or local organizations. Some are available to all senior adults. Others require you to be affiliated with whatever organization runs the transport service. Unfortunately, volunteer transportation is less common and not be available in your area.
Ride-hailing services offer transportation on demand to and from locations you specify. Users can request a car or other vehicle via a website, mobile app, or telephone number. These have become increasingly popular over the years and vary in price depending on the company. Taxi services are generally the most expensive and ride-sharing services are usually the least expensive.
Shared Ride Options
Many ride-hailing services now offer carpooling options called ride-sharing, which in turn has produced specific shared ride companies. Though less prolific than ride-hailing services, shared-ride services are much more affordable.
However, what you save in money you’ll sacrifice in time and privacy since more stops are involved and you’ll always be sharing the vehicle with other passengers.
Assisted Transportation Services
These services don’t just give older adults a ride. Instead, they also help seniors to and from the vehicle and may stay with them for the duration of the outing. Many services now offer multi-stop options instead of simple origin-destination rides. Assisted transportation usually cost more than regular ride-hailing services, but also provide more security and assistance.
Some factors to consider when choosing a transportation option include your surrounding area, transportation budget, riding preferences, and personal needs. For example, taking a city bus may fall within your budget. However, it may not be able to accommodate your mobility device. It’s best to find an option that meets all of these criteria rather than just one or two.
Companies That Provide Transportation Services and Programs for Seniors
There are several transportation services and programs that have received increasing attention, especially for their service to older adults. Some are specifically geared toward seniors, while others are convenient for people of all ages.
Below is a list of a few of the most popular services that have good reputations for servicing riders. Pricing is listed in each option according to the financial information available from each company.
- This transportation and delivery service is tailored toward people who are 50+. Users can request medication, meals, ride, and more by text or telephone. Membership is $9.99/ month and concierge fees are $0.27/ minute, not including Lyft or Uber ride fares.
- Veyo is a full-service transportation program that partners with health insurance agencies like Medicare and Medicaid to provide non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT). It is free to use through certain healthcare and insurance plans. Users can request trips via a telephone number or plan-specific website.
Right at Home
- Right at Home and Right at Home Transport are local care and transportation services for seniors living at home. Costs are billed hourly but may also be affected by the level of services required (medical vs. non-medical, etc.). Some services are covered by insurance and reimbursement programs.
- SilverRide is a door-to-door assisted ride service for seniors. They offer round-trip or multi-stop assisted rides. It operates in the San Francisco Bay and Kansas City areas. When users book a ride, they are quoted a price upfront. Prices are based on distance, time of day, and the selected accompaniment option.
- This is a ride-sharing service that operates in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. It boasts “guaranteed, low prices” for rides and quotes fares starting at under $5/ person. Groups of 5 or more are charged extra and the cost of tolls is distributed among the booking parties.
Liberty Mobility Now
- This is an aggregate transportation option that connects seniors in rural communities with rides. Liberty is a smaller company that only operates in seven states, but prides itself on going above and beyond for all riders, especially seniors. Users are charged a service fee per ride.
- Lyft is a transportation service where users can request rides via the app or online. Ride costs vary based on the route, time of day, ride type, driver availability, traffic, and more. Prices are initially shown upfront when users enter a destination but can change if you switch your destination or add stops.
- Similar to Lyft, Uber is a transportation service where users request rides. After inputting a destination, users are presented with either an upfront price or an estimated fare range. Prices may change depending on busy your area is and if you add extra stops. Booking fees, tolls, and event surcharges may also apply.
These are just a few of the programs that operate over several areas, states, or nationwide. More than likely, there are also local options for senior transportation. If you search specifically for programs near you, you’re sure to find services. However, make sure to inquire about their pricing before booking any rides.
How To Save Money On Senior Transportation
Transportation costs will vary depending on the service you use. There are usually local, state, or even national programs that make it easy for seniors to find transportation. However, paying for transportation is another matter.
For those living off savings, a fixed income, or a part-time job, every dollar counts. This can extremely limit the mobility options older adults have. But there are some steps you can take to try and reduce transportation costs.
Ask For Senior Discounts
- Many publicly-funded transportation options, such as city buses or trains, offer senior discounts. Others offer discounted membership or program benefits. Whenever you take a trip somewhere, make sure to ask about senior discounts.
Consider Ride Sharing
- Using companies that offer ride-sharing services is often more cost-efficient than paying for the privilege of being the only person in the vehicle. It’s simple math: the more people you share the ride with, the less it’s going to be.
See If Transport Is Included
- Just like many colleges have their own transportation services, many assisted living facilities and nursing homes have busses that make regular trips. Common stops include the grocery store and department stores.
Look Into Carpooling
- Many groups that have large numbers of senior adults offer carpooling services. For example, churches and sports centers often have volunteer-run transportation for senior attendees. Ask if this is available and if you can be included.
Save Money Elsewhere
- In case you aren’t able to save money on senior transportation, try finding discounts in other areas to offset costs. You may not get a discount on your ride, but plenty of other stores and services offer senior citizen discounts.
Not all transportation services offer discounts for seniors. This is usually especially true for programs that are already geared toward older adults. They may already feature lower rates because of their main audience. Even so, it can be worthwhile to look into what savings are available to you or your loved one.
How to Find Senior Transportation and Care Resources
Learning about, finding, and arranging transportation for older adults can be daunting. More often than not, senior transportation isn’t as publicized as other transportation services. Because of this, many individuals don’t know where to start looking for information. Thankfully, there are many resources geared at educating individuals and connecting them with affordable resources in their area.
The Eldercare Locator
- Many different states and counties offer public transportation options specifically for seniors. The Eldercare Locator is a free resource provided by the U.S. Administration on Aging. Users can type in their zip code or city and state to find a list of local resources for seniors and caregivers.
Rides in Sight
- Rides in Sight is a database of transportation programs. Users can enter their city and state or zip code and search for programs near them. They can also enter keywords, such as “wheelchair” or “free” to filter for specific programs. For those who prefer to speak to someone, a toll-free hotline is also available.
- The Community Transportation Association of American (CTAA) runs the National Volunteer Transportation Center, which promotes and supports volunteer transportation and ride-sharing initiatives. It has an easy-to-use map that lists volunteer transportation providers by state.
- This is a national senior transportation network that connects 14 communities across 12 states. Similar to the CTAA NVTC’s volunteer map, this organization has an interactive map that shows Independent Transportation Network (ITN) facilities by state.
- The Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety (ChORUS) is a non-profit project that provides information and resources for the “three major components of highway safety”: roadways, road users, and vehicles. Users can read about road safety and older drivers or browse ChORUS’ listed alternate transportation options.
- The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) is a federally funded program that works to connect older adults and people with disabilities with community transportation services. They promote accessible and affordable transportation and provide information and resources for families and seniors.
- The Nation Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) is the parent network of all current Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), which total over 600 at present. It focuses on supporting and expanding AAAs into a comprehensive transportation network for senior citizens.
There are many resources available for seniors or caregivers who are unsure of how to begin finding affordable transportation. These resources vary in purpose, from directly connecting users to local transportation options to providing instruction on how users can find these options.
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