Finding Local Transportation Services


Transportation is the critical link that assures access to vital services such as health care and going to the grocery store. The availability of adequate transportation allows older Americans to live independently in their communities and helps prevent isolation and premature institutionalization. For many older people who do not drive an automobile, family and friends provide much of the transportation. However for others, community transportation is the only connection to the outside world.

What type of transportation is available in my community?

The type of transportation that is available in your community will vary depending upon where you live. In addition, transportation for the elderly can include door-to-door service, the public bus that travels along a fixed route or ridesharing in a carpool. The following briefly describes these three general classes of transportation for older Americans.

Demand response, also called Dial-a-Ride, refers to a system requiring advance reservations and offering point-to-point or door-to-door transportation from one specific location to another. The door-to-door service provides flexibility, comfort and potential for adapting to the needs of each rider. Demand response transportation systems usually provide transportation on an advance reservation basis, often requiring payment of fare or donations on a per ride basis.

Fixedroute and scheduled services transport riders along an established route with designated stops where riders can board and be dropped off. Reservations are not required because the vehicles stop at predetermined times and locations. Fixed route services usually require payment of a fare on a perride basis. Many communities offer discounts to senior citizens.

Ridesharing programs coordinate people who need rides with volunteer drivers who have space in their automobiles. Typically, this service is scheduled transportation with a specific destination. The destination points can include places of employment, nutrition sites, senior centers and medical appointments.

How do I find transportation services in my community?

ElderCare Online's Neighborhood Networks

The ElderCare Online website hosts a Neighborhood Network for each of the USA's 50 states and the District of Columbia. These resource pages point you toward government and non-profit resources on the state and community levels. You will find, links to:

  • The Local Area Agency on Aging or Title VI Program -- There are 670 Area Agencies on Aging nationwide. Area Agencies on Aging have an Information and Assistance service providing older persons and their caregivers with specific information about services in the community, including transportation services. These local agencies, monitor and support specialized transportation services for elders in their community. It is also the role of the Area Agencies on Aging to ensure that services are delivered to the older person in need.

  • The State Unit on Aging is the agency designated by the governor and the state legislature as the focal point for all matters relating to the needs of older persons within the state. The State Unit on Aging is responsible for planning, coordination, funding and evaluating programs for older persons authorized by both state and federal government. Refer to the state government listings in the Neighborhood Network for your state's office on aging or department of human resources.

The ElderCare Locator

The Eldercare Locator is a nationwide service to help families and friends find information about community services for older people. The Eldercare Locator provides access to an extensive network of organizations serving older people at state and local community levels. Call the Eldercare Locator toll free at 1-800-677-1116.

The Yellow Pages of the Telephone Book

The Yellow Pages of many telephone books have a special section in the front of the book with the names and addresses of various service organizations. Look under transportation or community services for the names of agencies that provide transportation for special needs.

The National Transit Hotline

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.

Source: This article was adapted from an ElderAction fact sheet written by Mark Meridy, National Eldercare Institute on Transportation, Community Transportation Association of America.

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