With more and more older adults staying active far into their golden years, the question of where senior citizens can get free rides is one that comes up often.
Senior citizens can often access free transportation through community programs, non-profit organizations, and public transportation services. Ride-sharing companies like Uber offer discounted rides to seniors in partnership with healthcare providers and local governments. Always check with local resources for the most current information.
Many family members who work or have busy lives often wonder how to make senior transportation work, so that the seniors in their homes who no longer drive aren’t forced to sit at home all day.
Here’s the information you need to track down where free rides are available.
Senior Ride Free Program
Many local public transportation authorities around the nation offer free or reduced-fare rides for eligible individuals.
Your local public transit system will be able to give you full details about specific programs or any special service offered in your area.
In some areas, public transportation systems require senior citizens to obtain a special pass or identification card for free rides.
Proof required for these passes can include:
- Proof of age or disability
- Note from a doctor attesting that the senior no longer drives
- Proof of income
Senior free or discounted public transit ride programs aren’t just limited to major metropolitan areas like Dallas, New York, Minneapolis, or other large cities, either.
Many rural areas, such as Lower Colorado Valley Transit serving south-central Texas in the Lower Colorado River Valley offer free and reduced rides to senior citizens needing to go to the bank, doctor’s offices, and more.
In addition, grant-funded Meals on Wheels programs in many rural and urban areas also offer a variety of options for rides for seniors.
Most such programs can offer free rides for specific needs including:
- Trips to pharmacy
- Doctor visits
- Grocery shopping
Disabled seniors or seniors on programs such as SNAP (food stamps) or Section 8 or who live in public housing are often eligible for completely free rides.
Ride Services For Seniors
In recent years, a number of commercial services, such as Lyft and Uber, have begun to offer reduced-fare rides for senior citizens.
Both services are nearly nationwide but have not rolled out into some small towns and rural areas yet.
To see if you can access rides through these door-to-door transportation services, check to each company’s official website to make sure Lyft or Uber is available in your area.
How Lyft Rideshare Helps Seniors
Lyft does not have a free ride program, however, they do offer a few driving services that may be of benefit to seniors.
- Lyft Up Grocery Access Program: This program offers discounted rides to low-income families and seniors who are headed to the grocery store. To be eligible, you must meet certain income requirements and live in a participating city.
- Lyft Up Jobs Access Program: This program offers free rides to low-income individuals who are looking for a job or are already employed and need rides to get to work. To be eligible, you must meet certain income requirements and live in a participating city.
- Lyft Pink: This is a subscription service that offers members a variety of perks, including 5% off rides, free priority pickup, and other discounts. Seniors may be eligible for a discounted rate on Lyft Pink.
In addition to these programs, Lyft may also offer other promotions or discounts that are specifically for seniors. You can check the Lyft website or app for the latest offers.
It is important to note that Lyft does not require riders to be of a certain age to use the service. However, some drivers may choose not to pick up riders who they believe are too old or frail.
If you are a senior who is concerned about this, you can try calling Lyft to request a ride with a driver who is known to be accommodating to seniors.
How the UberSenior Program Works
Uber provides fare reductions for elderly individuals. Anyone possessing a valid senior citizen identification can avail of these discounts, with fares equivalent to those of UberX.
Additionally, Uber Assist is available, offering enhanced support for individuals with varying accessibility requirements, including the elderly.
Senior centers can utilize Uber Health to schedule, oversee, and pay for their residents’ rides without the need for individual Uber accounts.
Senior services such as transportation needs, grocery shopping, prescription medication delivery, meal provision, and home chores can be arranged via GoGoGrandparent by dialing 1 (855) 464-6872.
AARP Uber Discount
While AARP doesn’t currently list Uber as among the hundreds of discounts currently offered to its members, Uber does offer Ride Pass to help seniors plan their day and budget the funds they have for Uber rides.
Additionally, Uber offers Uber Rewards to help seniors and other riders accumulate points.
Here is how Uber’s point system works:
- One point for every dollar spent on UberPool and UberEats
- Two points for every dollar spent on UberX, UberXL, Select, and WAV
- Three points for every dollar spent on UberBlack, Black SUV, and Uber Lux
Once you’ve accumulated points, you can earn:
- $5 Uber credit for every 500 points
- $5 for every 500 points amassed thereafter
- NO LIMIT on points accumulated
Other ride services for senior citizens include Lift Hero, a ride service separate from Uber and Lift.
Although only currently available in limited markets, Lift Hero is limited to use by senior citizens, so they take special care of older adults and have drivers ready to meet senior citizens’ needs like opening doors, assisting with walkers, etc.
For seniors who want to use Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services and don’t have a smartphone but also don’t use the Jitterbug brand phone, don’t fear: any cell phone or landline can connect you with GoGoGrandparent.
GoGoGrandparent will connect you with rideshare services, taxis, and other forms of local, private for-fee transportation in your area at no additional charge, and without the use of ride-sharing apps or a smartphone.
GoGoGrandparent is easy to use, and seniors need only to remember to press a few phone keys after registering:
- Press one to get a car to come to your home
- Press two to get a car to the last place you were dropped off at
- Press three, four, or five to get a custom location pickup
- Press six to use an operator (a real person) to order a ride
- Press zero to ask questions or get additional information
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT)
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) is a program that provides transportation to individuals who need medical care but do not require an ambulance.
NEMT services can include rides to and from doctor’s appointments, hospitals, and other medical facilities.
They can also include rides to and from dialysis appointments, cancer treatments, and other specialized medical care.
NEMT services are typically funded by a variety of sources, including:
- Medicare: Medicare covers NEMT services for certain individuals, such as those who are homebound or have difficulty leaving their homes due to a disability.
- Medicaid: Medicaid also covers NEMT services for certain individuals, such as those who meet certain income and asset requirements.
- State and local governments: State and local governments may also fund NEMT services.
- Private insurance: Some private insurance plans may cover NEMT services.
To qualify for NEMT services, you will need to meet certain eligibility requirements. These requirements may vary depending on the program that you are applying to.
Some common eligibility requirements include:
- Age: You may need to be a certain age, such as 65 years of age or older, to qualify for NEMT services.
- Disability: You may need to have a disability that makes it difficult for you to get to medical appointments on your own.
- Income: You may need to meet certain income requirements to qualify for NEMT services.
If you think that you may be eligible for NEMT services, you should contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA).
The AAA can provide you with information about NEMT programs that are available in your area and area and help you with the application process.
National Volunteer Transportation Center
Volunteer drivers can be a great option for door-to-door service!
The National Volunteer Transportation Center’s mission is to provide transportation solutions to those who need it.
They put an emphasis on life-building and sustaining assistance, such as grocery shopping and medical visits, although their work is not limited to those areas.
With volunteer transportation groups in all 50 states (including Alaska and Hawaii), senior citizens will likely not be too far from a quick, free volunteer ride.
While the National Volunteer Transportation Center does not itself provide transportation to seniors or connect them with groups that do, they, along with the AlterNetWays foundation (one of its partners) run AssistRides, which does help pair seniors with individual organizations made up of volunteer drivers.
There are several things to remember when using a volunteer ride service for seniors through AssistRides:
- If you have limited mobility or accessibility issues (wheelchair, walker, etc.) be sure to let them know
- Be sure that the operator has a clear understanding of your area and where you want to go to ensure both are in the service area
- Make sure you will have a ride back as many of these services operate limited hours
Dial A Ride For Seniors
Dial-A-Ride programs are often called “paratransit,” or “demand-response service” in many areas. Most demand-response and para-transit services are operated by the same transportation authorities that operate your local bus routes.
However, dial-a-ride and paratransit services typically require you to meet certain criteria to be eligible for demand-response services, such as:
- A verifiable disability
- Difficulty walking that would delay boarding a normal bus
- Specific income levels
- Live alone or with another disabled family member
Requirements for paratransit, dial-a-ride, and demand-response vary widely from city to city, so don’t feel as though you may not be eligible if you don’t meet the criteria on this list.
Instead, call your local transit authority and inquire about their specific requirements.
Remember to do additional research and ask questions about any service you would like to use for yourself or a senior citizen in your care.
Make sure to check first with your local public transit authority about demand response service, and then about discounted rides for seniors before going with ride-share services, which may be more costly for those on a fixed income.
No matter where you are in the nation, from rural Wyoming to upstate New York, you should be able to find free or low-cost local transportation options for the senior citizens in your life to help keep them independent and active well into their golden years.