Driving Alternatives

How to Get Around After Giving up the Keys

Transportation geared toward older adults and the disabled

Before an older adult has to stop driving, it's a good idea to identify alternative sources of transportation. Consider the following sources, and learn how to access them.


If the person you're caring for is disabled and can't use regular public transportation, he might be eligible for paratransit. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities are entitled to the same access to public transportation as everyone else, adapted as needed. Adaptations include such things as wheelchair lifts and door-to-door service. He must apply for paratransit service. For more information on paratransit, see Paratransit: What is it, and can it help my parents? .

Cost: Paratransit costs the same or sometimes more than regular public transportation. Most agencies have senior discounts.

How to find it: Paratransit is offered through local public transportation agencies. Do an online search with the terms public transportation or bus system plus the name of the person's town. Or try these state-by-state transit-finder tools from the AARP and the American Public Transportation Association .

Tip: Transit agency websites usually have detailed paratransit information, including application forms.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

Senior Dial-a-Ride, van, or shared transportation services

An increasing variety of door-to-door van or car pool-type services catering to older adults are available in many communities, operated by local transportation companies or by nonprofit organizations. (Sometimes these are the same services used for paratransit, available to nondisabled people for a fee.) These services may not have as much flexibility as taxis and tend to follow set routes, such as linking riders to the local shopping center, but they can be extremely useful.

Cost: The price of senior transit varies but is likely to be less than a taxi and more than regular public transportation. Some services may charge on a sliding scale.

How to find it: Look in the telephone directory under senior transportation or public transportation . Check online with terms like senior dial-a-ride and senior transit . Also try contacting your Area Agency on Aging. (Find info on your local AAA through Caring.com's local resource directory .) Another option is to contact the government's Eldercare Locator by calling 800-677-1116 (9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST).

Tip: Many senior centers have door-to-door service for people using the facility. While this doesn't help with getting around town, it makes it easy for an older adult to visit the center for a class, meal, or social activity.

How to Hire a Private Driver for a Senior

Family, friends, and caregivers

Try enlisting friends and family for help driving the person you're caring for on errands and outings. Considering hiring an occasional driver. Ask friends, church or other faith groups, and senior organizations for referrals.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

Cost: In some cases, he may find volunteer drivers who don't expect payment. Otherwise, drivers should be paid similarly to in-home caregivers, meaning on a range from minimum wage to "high-end" salaries of $15 to $25 an hour.The Eldercare Locator , which connects you to a local agency, can help you learn the going rate for in-home care in his area. It can also be reached by calling 800-677-1116 (9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST).

Tips: Before hiring a driver, make sure you see a copy of his driver's license and proof of insurance, and go for at least one drive with the candidate. Check references. If a driver is using the older adult's car, or yours,  check with your insurance company about coverage.

Taxis, limousines, and other private pay-for-service transit

If the person  you're caring for doesn't want to use public transportation or isn't eligible for paratransit, consider judicious use of taxis and other private door-to-door transport. While not inexpensive, these are usually convenient and comfortable.

Cost: Prices are calculated by distance traveled and time (including waiting time), and they vary by community. If you look online using the name of his town and terms such as taxi fares or limousine fares , you might find tools to help you calcu late prices. Online tools give taxi fares for larger U.S. cities and taxi fare information .

How to find it: Check in the telephone directory under taxis, limousines, or transportation companies. Do the same online, always using his hometown. Senior centers in the person's neighborhood may give referrals for selected services.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

Tip: You or the person you're caring for should call ahead to get fare estimates to avoid last-minute fumbling around for the right change.

How to Help Seniors Find Public Transportation Options

If the person you're caring for lives in a metropolitan area, public transportation -- usually buses and trains -- can be a great way of getting around. But if he's unfamiliar with the public transit system, you can help by taking him on some orientation runs on the routes he's likely to use most. Go places together. Grab sc hedules and route maps as you go, for his home reference. As he learns the ropes, he should gain more confidence and enjoy the independence.

Cost: Tickets range roughly from $1 to $5 a ride, depending on the locale, agency, and distance traveled. Most have reduced senior fares and cost-saving passes that are cheaper than paying trip by trip.

How to find it: Do an online search with the terms public transportation or bus system with the name of his town. Or try these state-by-state transit-finder tools from the AARP and the American Public Transportation Association .

Tip: Local transit agency websites usually have maps, schedules, and fare information.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

For more ideas on helping an older adult who can no longer drive, see "When Your Parents Can No Longer Drive" .

Also check the website of the National Center on Senior Transportation, which offers further transportation resources.

4 months ago, said...

GoGoGrandparent.com let's older adults call Uber & Lyft without a smartphone. It's a handy and affordable option for senior travel!

about 6 years ago, said...

Just came across your article doing some research for my Dad, great breakdown. Here in San Francisco there's a "pay-for-service" company that's doing something different. SilverRide offers vehicles with driver companions that accommodate senior needs. They also provide lifestyle concierge services to help keep seniors engaged. I haven't seen this combo offered by others, seems to make sense.

over 8 years ago, said...

Hats off to Kate for tackling this important subject. Another resource you can look for are professional chauffeurs. Look for companies like WeDriveU, a nice alternative for seniors who prefer to be driven in the comfort of their own car or Avis rental for medical appointments or social visits with friends & family. Rather than charging by mileage/distance, they charge a flat hourly fee.