Transportation is a major issue for seniors, especially in rural communities. Losing one’s drivers license triggers many emotions- especially loss of independence. ‘Giving up the keys’ is a common discussion in many households and most often when adult children have concerns about their parent’s driving habits.
Statistics Canada report that in 2009, ¾ of all seniors over age 65 had a driver’s license. They anticipate the number of elderly drivers will continue to grow as we are living longer. The focus of this blog is to highlight some transportation alternatives available in most cities, once the older person is no longer driving.
Many seniors are opposed to taking a taxi. Many of those individuals with whom I work tell me that it is a financial consideration and viewed as an expensive luxury. Most don’t accept that taking taxis is frequently less expensive than owning a car, once maintenance, insurance and gas are calculated. I refer you to the July 14, 2016 article published on the ‘ToughNickel’ website that discusses the costs and the author’s research.
There are community organizations that provide volunteer drivers, available to transport individuals, who are ‘frail, elderly or disabled’ such as the Red Cross. There are others that are available at discounted rates in major cities. We are also seeing private companies that provide accompaniment and transportation services such as Driving Miss Daisy.
As we know there is a new transportation service in town, called Uber which is now offering ‘uberASSIST’. I have yet to try this service and welcome any readers’ feedback. They charge an additional 15% service fee and require their driver to complete an inperson training session and read the accompanying educational guide/handbook. Many seniors however don’t have smartphones. To address this issue, there are now companies such as GoGoGrandparent that provides a hotline number so there is no need for a smartphone. The senior calls the toll free number and has a menu selection from which to choose. They offer service across Canada wherever Uber is available. Their service fee is calculated by time travelled and is an additional 19 cents per minute.
One method I have found that works with reluctant taxi users is to open an account for them and/or offer some taxi chits as a gift. Soon we will have the driverless car and this may be our best option yet!
 Canada Social Trends Summer 2012 no 93, Profile of seniors’ transportation habits