This paper is about the various transport methods that are available to the elderly members of the society. It starts with introducing the need for the aged persons to have a convenient means of transport to maintain the accessibility of activities to the elderly people without depending on friends and family. The paper then discusses some of the transportation options available to the aged individuals. These possibilities include volunteer driver programs, paratransit service, door-through-door service, travel training, transportation voucher programs and taxi services. The paper concludes with summing up the need for convenient, safe and affordable transportation for the aged and highlighting the options and services that are available to the aged persons in need of transportation.
Transportation is important in ensuring access to crucial services like medical care and shopping for groceries, especially for the elderly persons in the community. This is due to the fact that their age may make it impossible for them to drive or walk to public transportation stops such as bus stops or railway stations. This makes it hard for the elderly to access such important services without having to rely on other people’s help as many older persons who do not drive have to depend on family and friends to assist them in their transportation needs. The availability of sufficient transportation, therefore, allows older individuals to live independently in their communities. It also assists in preventing isolation and the probable need for long-term care placement. Older persons are also given the chance to continue doing some of their favorite activities such as going to the movies and engaging in other recreational activities as they will have a convenient means of transportation. They should also not have to incur too many costs trying to travel to their needed locations. There is, therefore, the need for a transportation option that fits the elderly persons, one that is good, cheap and convenient for them.
Depending on the destination and physical needs of the elderly persons, transportation choices in their area may include buses, vans, taxis or volunteer drivers from human service organizations. Some of the options of the transportation resources and services that may be available to the elderly persons are discusses below.
Local religious-based and not for profit organizations usually have a network of volunteers who provide flexible transportation for activities such as recreation, shopping and doctor’s appointments. These programs provide one-way trips, round-trips and even multi-stop rides. These services normally require people making reservations. The programs are offered at no cost, on a donation basis, by use of membership dues or for a reduced cost. This makes it easy for the elderly persons who may be in need of transportation services to afford the costs (“Personal Transportation for Seniors”).
Paratransit services are provided by public transit, aging institutions and private entities. The services provided by these organizations include door-to-door or curb-to-curb transportation by use of mini-buses or vehicles holding a passenger capacity of not more than 25 passengers. Paratransit services regularly require users to make advanced reservations though they still provide a level of flexibility and personalization of the schedule. Curb-to-curb service offers passenger pick-up and transport at the roadside. Door-to-door services provide a higher degree of assistance through picking up passengers at their doorsteps and taking them to the doorsteps of their destinations. Paratransit services ensure reduced transportation costs for elderly persons and disabled individuals with some providers operating on a donation basis. These services, especially the door-to-door services, may offer elderly people the transportation convenience they need to carry out their activities (“Personal Transportation for Seniors”).
Door-through-door services are also known as escort services. Agencies offer drivers or escorts who provide personal hands-on help by giving help to passengers through the doors of their homes and destinations as required. The escort service is inclusive of different levels of assistance such as opening doors, physical support and the provision of verbal guidance. It is usually of great help, especially to people, who suffer from severe physical or mental diseases. These services usually require a reservation.
Public transit is also known as fixed route service. Public transit agencies offer bus and rail transportation alongside conventional routes with set schedules. These services do not require any reservation. They are commonly known as public transportation or mass transit. Disabled persons and elderly people pay reduced price for transportation and may also receive additional transportation services. Details about routes, fares costs and special services are availed to the public through the public transit agency. The public transportation service may, however, not offer sufficient convenience, especially to the aged persons who may find it hard to access the designated places (“Transport Solutions for Older People”).
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Public transit agencies and local aging institutions offer free hands-on instruction to assist older people and persons with disabilities with knowledge necessary for enabling them to travel safely and self-reliantly using the public transit systems (Burkhardt, Adam, and Nelson). The topics that they may be taught are inclusive of the best routes for reaching different destinations, transportation hours, the expenses or the cost of the service which includes the available discounts and the methods of paying for the service such as tokens and fare cards. They are also given demonstrations on how to ride public transportation buses. These services may be helpful to the elderly persons as they will be able to depend on themselves to access and use public means of transport with ease.
Passengers are required to activate taxi service through calling a dispatcher to ask for a ride between destinations of their choice. The scheduling of the trips may be done in advance or without reservation. Some of the taxis are wheelchair accessible and adhere to the standards laid down by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This may be of help to the elderly persons who use wheel chairs or even the disabled individuals. The cost of the service is charged depending on the mile or per each mile or on the basis of the duration adding to the base charge for every trip. Payment methods for the taxi services include the use of the transportation voucher programs. This option may, however, be expensive hence not affordable to the elderly persons whose monetary resources are limited or constrained (“Personal Transportation for Seniors”).
Organizations such as Areas Agencies on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Centers usually offer fare assistance programs that allow qualified people to buy the vouchers for transportation services at a lower rate as compared to the price of the vouchers offered to the general public. The qualified people include older persons who are economically unprivileged. The vouchers are then used for paying for services from transportation providers who take part or have consented to the transportation voucher programs. The latter may involve public transportation, volunteer programs and other private firms such as taxis. There is a requirement for the application for these programs. Clients have to reserve and secure the services they require (“Transportation Options for Older Adults”).
Additionally, some communities have mobility managers who provide guidance concerning the available transportation services and resources. These specialists have the knowledge of the community-wide transportation network and have an understanding of how it is carried out. The main task of the mobility managers is assisting the consumers in picking the best option that meets their respective travel needs. The elderly persons may seek the services of a mobility manager to allow them to know the services that may be effective in meeting their travel needs especially in offering safe, convenient and affordable transportation services (“Personal Transportation for Seniors”).
Convenient means of transport is necessary to ensure that one’s transportation needs are met. Elderly persons are a vulnerable population and are not able to do some of the activities they could when they were younger such as driving. They are, therefore, required to seek the help of third parties to travel to places such as hospitals, recreational areas, and even shopping places. The inability to drive themselves may cause inconvenience for both the aged persons and the third parties who have to drive the former to various places. This makes it important to look for transportation services that may be affordable, safe and convenient to the elderly persons.
Various options are available and they include the taxi service which requires passengers to activate this service through calling a dispatcher to ask for a ride between destinations of their choice. There is also the public transit which offers bus and rail services alongside conventional routes with set schedules and do not normally require advance reservations. There is also the door-through-door service which involves drivers who give personal hands-on help by helping passengers through the doors of their homes and destinations as required. The volunteer driver programs usually have a network of volunteers who provide flexible transportation for activities such as recreation, shopping and doctor’s appointments. Transport providers have also come together to create programs such as transportation voucher programs the services of which are only applicable to vehicles of the providers which are part to these programs. Most of these transport options available to the aged persons have their transport costs subsidized and additional services such as accessible wheelchairs to cater for the physical and the economic needs of the aged persons.
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There are also areas that provide the services of a mobility manager who advise people on the best transport option which meets their needs. The availability of these transportation services is important in ensuring that the aged persons remain an active part of the population through allowing them access to places and things they used to access during their younger days. It also eliminates the need for elderly persons’ placements and their dependence on friends and family for transport needs.