Alternative Transportation for Seniors Who No Longer Drive

A recurring problem in our society is knowing when to give up driving privileges as seniors. Families often struggle with loved ones who need to stop driving but who stubbornly resist any suggestion that the time has come to relinquish their driving license despite unsafe, careless driving habits. It is frightening to some seniors to even think of not being able to drive to their appointments, go shopping, visit friends and many other activities. To many seniors, not driving means loss of independence. It is a threat to their well-being and they sometimes feel and believe that everyone is against them. My husband and I have had the conversation about how we will handle our transportation needs when we are no longer able to safely drive. We have made plans to utilize family and transportation options specially geared to meet the needs of seniors and have already applied for and have been determined eligible to use our area senior van service for shopping, appointments and recreational activities.

In many communities, bus or van services are available free or for a nominal fee to transport seniors to medical appointments, shopping and special events. To ease the transition from independence to dependence upon senior transportation services, seniors should start the application process before services are needed. To find out about alternative transportation in your community, contact your local Office on Aging or Senior Transportation Department or local social service department to obtain information about what transportation services are in the area and the eligibility requirements to access the transportation services.

Complete applications that may be required in order to be considered for available services. Information may be requested about the senior’s mobility. Such questions may include does the senior travel independently or is a personal attendant needed? Does the senior require special accommodations such as a lift or specially equipped van or bus or can the senior access the vehicle independently? The information given will clarify more accurately the transportation needs of the senior.

Most communities offer reduced fares for seniors. Bus and rail systems probably have an application that must be completed to determine eligibility for special transportation provisions. Often the fare is lower than the average passenger’s fare.

Get a schedule and become familiar with the rules of the transport service. Usually trips have to be scheduled a few days in advance to arrange pick-up and drop-off. Most transport services will call a day or two ahead to confirm the trip and give you an approximate pick-up time. Check to see whether your appointment is in the transport service’s delivery area. Some areas are outside the transport services delivery area so alternate transportation arrangements would need to be made. Do not wait until the last minute to reserve a seat for your pick-up for your scheduled appointment or event.

Most transport services operate as a “shared ride” system. Such a system implies that other passengers will be riding and sharing the same transport service and passengers will be picked up and discharged along the route. Therefore, you must be flexible in your expected time of arrival and return trips. Using transport services may not be as convenient as driving yourself or having friends or family take you to and from your scheduled events but nevertheless it is a practical and viable alternative that is available if you no longer drive.

Whether planning alternative transportation for yourself or a senior family member or friend, become familiar with your community transport services to ease the transition from not driving to being driven. Prior planning will help make the adjustment from not being in the driver’s seat to sitting in the passenger seat much more satisfying. Sit back and enjoy the ride.