7 Affordable Transportation Options for Seniors

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Tue Sep 13 2022.

7 Affordable Transportation Options for Seniors

Up to 1 in 5 Americans aged 65 and older no longer drive. Age-related health problems like vision loss make driving risky, and as the number of seniors grows, so too does the need for affordable transportation. 

Finding rides can be a real headache, regardless of where one lives. Thankfully, senior ride programs are getting easier to come by. Here are our top 7 affordable recommendations:

1) Government-sponsored transportation programs

Many cities, towns, and rural municipalities offer informal and formal transportation programs. “These programs provide transportation for seniors who are unable to drive,” said Karl Holland, Editor of Culture and Lifestyle at Life Part 2. “Often, these programs offer transportation to grocery stores, banks, and other local destinations.”

Contact the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC). NADTC pairs older adults, people with disabilities, and their caregivers, with community transportation resources. The call center’s experts can answer questions, make transportation recommendations, and make referrals to nearby transportation programs.

2) Public transportation

Consider public transportation if you live in a large or medium-sized city.

“This can include buses, lightrails, trains, or subways,” said Todd Bissell, an Uber driver and the founder of RideFAQs.com. “Public transportation is often the most affordable option, especially if you live in an area with a good public transportation system.”

Make sure to bring your wallet and some type of identification, like a driver’s license or a passport, before leaving home.

“Many regions have services that offer free rides to seniors,” said Melanie Musson, a senior living expert at Clearsurance. “For example, Philadelphia’s SEPTA public transportation system allows seniors to apply for a pass that gives them free access to all modes of public transport. Dallas and Minneapolis have similar programs, while Washington D.C. and New York City offer discounted fares to seniors.

3) Rideshare services, such as Uber or Lyft

“Ridesharing services are popular options for those who can’t or don’t want to drive,” Bissell said. “These services allow you to request a ride from a driver in your area. You can then pay for the ride through the app. It’s convenient and often cheaper than taking a taxi or a bus for short distances.”

Many rideshare services even accommodate passengers with mobility issues and special needs.

“Companies like Lyft and Uber offer a special access option for anyone who needs a wheelchair-accessible vehicle,” said Jim Trevors, CEO at We Review Tires. “While some cities supplement rideshare services by offering discounted or free rides to seniors,” added Munson.

Pro Tip: Rural communities don’t always offer ridesharing programs such as Lyft or Uber. If that’s the case in your area, create your own rideshare program with an app like RideConnect.

4) Local charities and non-profits

If you live in a rural area or a small town, you might not have access to public transportation or rideshare programs. But those are not the only options.

“Many charities and non-profits offer cheap transportation to elderly people who live alone,” Trevors said. “These volunteers are focused on serving their community by assisting those who are no longer capable of driving.”

Bonus Link: Trying to find transportation assistance isn’t easy. Here’s a list of nonprofits and charities that offer transportation assistance curated by GreatNonProfits.com.

5) Friends, family members, or neighbors

Don’t hesitate to ask for help from those in your life and your community.

“While you don’t want to become a burden, it’s fine to ask for a ride. Especially if you just want to tag along,” Musson said. “For example, you might ask a neighbor if you can join them the next time they go to the grocery store. That way, it won’t be inconvenient for them, but you can still get a ride.”

6) Carpool

“Carpooling is a great way to save money on gas and parking,” Bissell said. “It’s also a good way to meet new people and make friends.”

There are several platforms that make it easy to connect with carpool drivers, including Moovit, Waze Carpool, and Karpool Club.

7) Taxi

Calling a taxi tends to be more expensive than other types of transportation, but that’s starting to change. “Some communities offer free or discounted taxi vouchers,” Holland said. “These vouchers can be used for doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, or other errands.”

Contact your local transportation authority to see if your city offers taxi vouchers. In many places, the transportation authority partners with local taxi businesses to operate the voucher program. You can also call the nearest taxi company and ask them about applying for vouchers.

Transportation is a big decision—consider these important factors

There are plenty of affordable transportation options to choose from, but it’s important to take your time.

Specifically, you should “consider the company’s safety and customer service records,” Holland said. “It’s also important to make sure the company’s licensed and insured. In addition, ask about their cancellation policy.”

“Ask how long the company has been offering rides to seniors and if they can provide recommendations,” Musson added. “If you can get recommendations or referrals to speak with local hospitals, senior centers, and other reputable organizations, you can have a higher level of trust in the transportation provider’s reputation.”

Relying on others for transportation is a big life adjustment. It can feel scary to lose your independence. Fortunately, with a little bit of research, it’s easy to find a solution that aligns with your activity level and budget. Good luck and safe travels.

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.