What Transportation Issues Do Seniors Experience in NY & CT?
Senior transportation issues occur across the country. Although, the issue is even more pronounced in the New York Metropolitan Area, because of the poor access to mass transit or other affordable transportation options for seniors without a car. Unless you live in New York City, using public transportation for doctor appointments, errands, or to simply meet friends in Westchester, Fairfield, or Long Island can be very difficult. White Plains, NY has 2 major train stations and a major bus terminal that serves Westchester County, but both come with their own set of issues. There are 3 distinct Metro-North train lines that run North and South, but do not connect from the East to the West. For instance, there is no Metro-North train that you can use to get from Rye, NY to White Plains, NY or from Larchmont, NY to Tarrytown, NY. The Long Island Rail Road is also split into several branches that also make certain areas of Long Island impossible to access from others.
Bus transportation in Westchester solves some of the issues regarding accessibility, but you may need to transfer multiple times to get where you need to go. That can take quite awhile and for those with physical limitations may not be possible. Bee-Line ParaTransit is a ride sharing service for seniors that gets you from Point A to Point B more directly and is a cost effective solution. Nassau County has the Nassau Inter-County Express (aka NICE), as well as an Able-Ride option for seniors, but it has the same as issues as does the Bee-Line. Although, it can be difficult to order a ride, and you need to think ahead, which again may not be possible. And for those seniors with cognitive and executive function issues, it can be very confusing and difficult to organize.
As you can see, there are a lot of public/mass transportation options in the area, but they all come with their own difficulties. Another great option, which also comes with many additional benefits, is a local Aging in Place Community. There are several Aging in Place Communities serving Westchester, including in White Plains, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Rye, and Bronxville. At Home on the Sound, which serves Larchmont and Mamaroneck, entitles their members to 2 round trip rides per week, which is hugely helpful to their membership.
Why Does Transportation Matter to Seniors?
If you are reading this article you probably have dealt with a transportation issue of your own as you have aged, or are currently managing a transportation issue for a loved one that is aging. According to the AARP, 8 million people over the age of 65 don’t drive—many for health reasons—and that percentage rises dramatically over the age of 80. "Compared to similar-age people who drive,
- 15% of those who don't drive make fewer trips to the doctor
- 59% make fewer trips to shop or eat out
- 65% make fewer trips to visit friends and family.
Therefore, lack of access to reliable transportation often leads to:
- Poor health due to fewer trips to the doctor
- Poor diet and/or weight loss due to lack of access to healthy food options
- Social isolation due to less connectedness to friends and family
Social isolation in some ways can be the single most damaging aspect of the lack of transportation. According to the National Institute on Aging, "Human beings are social creatures. Our connection to others enables us to survive and thrive. Yet, as we age, many of us are alone more often than when we were younger, leaving us vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness—and related health problems such as cognitive decline, depression, and heart disease."
“As we look to solve the challenges our home care clients have to over come in order to remain in their home, one of the main issues that always pops up is transportation” says Shan Wade, owner of STEPS Home Care. "This past year we partnered with Uber Health to help get our Caregivers and client where they needed to go quickly and efficiently. We can now organize the logistics of Uber from our office rather than using an app on the Caregivers' or client's phone, and we can pre-order rides, which you weren't able to do until recently. Although, a lot of people we help take care of may not have a smart phone, or if they do aren't comfortable downloading and using an app. Therefore, local senior transportation options are still necessary to help take care of the seniors in our communities." Without accessible, reliable and affordable transportation, many seniors in the Westchester and Fairfield County area face the possibility of having to leave their homes and move into an assisted living facility.
What Transportation Options Are There in Westchester, NY and Fairfield County, CT
Community transportation options are often creative solutions meant to fill identified gaps and may include such services as: Dial-a-ride which offers curb-to-curb service at an agreed-upon time; Volunteer transportation programs; and Assisted transportation (called “door-to-door” or “door-through-door”) for older adults who need more than a ride, providing assistance from the door to the car or an “escort” to stay with them throughout the trip.
The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) offers resources to connect agencies on aging with families and suggests the following questions to ask your local ride service:
- Are there limits on the types of trips (medical, religious services) you can schedule?
- Can the ride accommodate a wheelchair or a rider who needs help?
- Do you need to reserve rides in advance?
- How much do rides cost?
- Is there a sliding scale or financial assistance for low-income riders?
- What’s their service area?
- Who’s eligible to use the service?
- Work on building your parent’s transportation plan.
Westchester, NY Senior Transportation Options
Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm
RideConnect is a program of Family Services of Westchester and provides free volunteer transportation to older adults to medical, shopping or other errands throughout Westchester and southern Putnam Counties. Clients must be 60+, physically and cognitively capable of traveling independently; rides are provided 7 days a week depending on volunteer availability
According to Karen Ganis, Director or RideConnect Westchester, “Transportation is rated as one of the top issues among Westchester County Seniors. Last year, RideConnect provided over 20,000 rides/referrals to seniors highlighting the demand. We help older adults stay active and connected in their communities so that they truly can 'live well' and age in place.”
At Home on the Sound is a membership organization serving residents over the age of 60 living in Mamaroneck, Rye Neck, and Larchmont. In addition to a robust schedule of social programs, members are entitled to two round-trip rides per week. All rides are provided by friendly, vetted volunteers in private cars. Membership dues are $410 per year for an individual and $550 per year for a household. Scholarships are available for residents of limited means. For information about joining call 914-899-3150 or visit www.athomeonthesound.org.
The purpose of WestFair Rides (WFR) is to help meet the transportation needs of older adults and vision-impaired adults of Westchester County, NY and western Fairfield County, CT by creating a network of sustainable, community-based, volunteer transportation services. Our goal is to promote lifelong safety, independence and mobility through mutually supportive, collaborative relationships with aging in place organizations, town recreation, public transportation, private livery, ParaTansit and other transportation providers and services in our region.
WFR maintains a Call Center for ride requests, volunteer support, and information/referral for ride options for older adults and vision-impaired adults in Westchester, NY and Fairfield, CT. Carefully vetted volunteers drive pre-registered clients to medical appointments across Westchester County.
Fairfield, CT Senior Transportation Options
Call 203-637-4345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
24 hours notice required. Their mission is to serve the seniors (60+) and people of any age with dignity and respect by providing specialized transportation to get them to where they need to go.
According to Debbie Vetromile, TAG Executive Director, “In addition to medical appointments, we also take seniors shopping, to visit friends and anywhere else they want to go in our service area. Tag is a personalized affordable service with door to door assistance and our vans are wheelchair equipped.”
For Greenwich residents who are 60+ and/or disabled (all ages). Accessible vans provide safe transportation with skilled drivers. Service is provided anywhere in Greenwich & between Greenwich and Stamford, Norwalk, Port Chester, Rye and White Plains. Medical Facilities include (but not limited to) Greenwich Hospital, Stamford Hospital, Tully Center, Davita Dialysis (Stamford), Stamford Medical Group, Greenwich Gastroenterology, Port Chester Dialysis & Renal Center, Stamford Physical Therapy.
An independent, nonprofit volunteer organization founded in 1975. They provide free door-to-door transportation for Greenwich’s ambulatory senior citizens, over age 60, who lack other means of transportation. Three cars provide rides five days a week to anywhere in Greenwich for any purpose; doctors, drug stores, attorneys, banks, shopping, hair appointments, rides to the polls on election day, and even visiting with friends. Clients need to call well in advance and usually make a small donation to help defray operating costs. Service to Greenwich Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Center in Stamford is provided, but not to individual physicians in Stamford. Call-A-Ride does not operate on holidays or snowy days if schools are cancelled, tune in to WGCH Radio. They follow the Greenwich Senior Center’s holiday schedule.
Ridesharing Options: Lyft and Uber for Seniors
While most of us have used a ride-sharing service and know how to manage the app from our own phones, many people do not realize how easily you can share the app with family members as long as they have a smart phone.
Set your pickup location - for your family member when the pickup is not your current location. The app will automatically ask whether the ride is for a family member or friend. You can then select the rider from your address book, set their destination, and request the ride on their behalf.
Once the driver is on the way, - the rider will receive a text message with the driver’s details and a link to track the driver’s route. They’ll even be able to contact the driver directly. The driver will see the rider’s name, and be able to contact the rider directly, too.
Ride Sharing Medical Services
Non-emergency medical transportation is attractive for both ride-sharing companies because insurers, including some Medicaid and Medicare plans, will often cover the cost of the ride for patients.
Lyft’s Concierge service now lets doctors and medical centers arrange rides for seniors. Lyft’s medical service doesn’t require patients to initiate the ride request or pay for it. Patients aren’t calling these rides from their own Lyft app. The health system or the provider arranges them through Lyft Concierge. This works for seniors who don’t have smartphones at all. Lyft told CNBC recently that its medical-ride volume tripled from the third quarter of 2017 to the third quarter of 2018, and it sees the potential for more growth. In June 2019, Lyft announced their approval to become an enrolled Medicaid provider in Arizona, following new state regulations for non-emergency medical transportation. Lyft is actively enrolling and exploring opportunities in other states.
Uber Central is a dashboard that enables any business to manage and pay for multiple Uber rides on behalf of their customers. UberCENTRAL is designed with all kinds of companies in mind — from senior centers and retailers to car dealerships, hospitals, hotels and more,” Uber announced in a press release.
Have you or a loved one used a ride-sharing program like Lyft or Uber for seniors? We’d like to hear more about your experiences. Please email us at email@example.com.
About STEPS Home Care
STEPS Home Care is a family, female, and locally owned Licensed Home Care Services Agency with offices in White Plains, NY, Stamford, CT, and Garden City, NY. Our goal is simple. Provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind by using 3 guiding principles: FAMILY, PASSION, and STABILITY.