When your parents don’t drive and you can’t drive them around, services that offer free rides for seniors can be a huge help. Your folks get to maintain their social lives, run errands, and visit their doctors. You get to reduce your stress. Everyone saves money. Here’s how to find out what’s available near you.
Is public transit free for seniors? It depends on where you live
In most North American cities, seniors can use public transit for a reduced fare, but some places offer free fares. For example, in seniors in Philadelphia and surrounding areas can show their ID to ride free on SEPTA buses, subways, trolleys, and the Norristown High Speed commuter rail line. Other cities offer free fares, but the qualifying process is more complex. One example is Chicago, which offers a free-ride program for seniors who participate in the Illinois Benefits Access program and who apply for an RTA Ride Free permit. If your parents live in an area with good public transportation, it’s worth checking to see if they can ride free.
How to find free rides with the National Volunteer Transportation Center
Five regional transportation groups founded the National Volunteer Transportation Center in 2014 to connect local volunteer groups with seniors and others who need rides in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The group’s site lists volunteer services by state and city. To get started, click the Find a Program tab at the top of the NVTC home page.
Next, you can select your parents’ state from the left column or click on the car icon on their map state. That will show you a list of all the volunteer programs in their home state. For example, in Texas, the NVTC site lists 12 volunteer ride groups operating in 9 cities and towns.
To get in touch with the group or groups in your parents’ town, click on the website link provided. This will take you away from the NVTC site to the volunteer group’s homepage, where you can learn about the neighborhoods the group serves, how to make reservations, and more. For example, if your folks live in North Richland Hills near Dallas, you can click on the Social Transportation for Seniors link to learn that this group serves seniors age 62 and up in the 76180 and 76182 zip codes with rides to shopping, salons, and social events between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm on weekdays. In the next suburb over, Hurst’s Mid-Cities Care Corps offers free rides in an 11-community area for adults age 65 and up, and rides must be booked at least 2 weeks in advance.
As you can see, each local volunteer free-ride service is unique. Be sure you understand the requirements for the group nearest your parents, especially how far in advance to request a ride, to avoid confusion and missed appointments. It’s also a good idea to find out if the volunteer driver will stay with your parents or wait nearby while they complete their appointments and errands. You can find more resources for independent living and in-home care at SeniorAdvisor.com.