Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. As I sat on the bench waiting for my Uber driver, I learned valuable information: some seniors and disabled Los Angeles County residents may ride the public transportation system for $0.50 and others may ride free of charge.
Moreover, Access, a Los Angeles County-wide door-to-door passenger transportation service, costs $2.75, one way. Even more economical, the Santa Monica home pickup Dial-a-Ride Service costs only $0.50 per trip. To use this service, users only need to apply to the agency and provide proof of residence, age or/or disability.
My source for these public transportation options was unexpected—a 94-year-old resident of Holiday Villa East, my senior living community in Santa Monica. The lovely lady, I’ll call Sophia, came strolling down the block with her walker. As she neared my bench, I noticed that a big smile lit up her face.
“Are you out for a walk?” I asked.
“No,” Sophia replied. “I’m returning from downtown Santa Monica. I needed a 2016 calendar. I went to Barnes & Noble.” The calendar was conveniently tucked away in the closed shelf on her walker.
Barnes & Noble is located at least 20 blocks from our mid-town community. I commented to Sophia that she had undertaken quite a walk. Her answer surprised me: she traveled by bus. A comfortable, ramp-enhanced bus stops at the corner of our street. In minutes, Sophia can reach the Santa Monica Main Library, two medical complexes with hospitals, shopping at the outdoor Third Street Promenade Mall and upscale Galleria. Another block and the bus stops at the beautiful Santa Monica Beach, with its abundance of restaurants and hotels along Ocean Drive and the Pacific Ocean.
I’m not certain which fact delighted me more—Sophia’s independence at 94 years or that her bus rides are free. I decided to learn more.
In the United States, transportation grants are distributed to the 50 states for funding programs to serve older adults. The U.S. Transportation for Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities (5310) grant is solely targeted for transportation services to seniors and adults with disabilities. The funding, distributed by the U.S. Department of Transportation through its Federal Transit Administration, is based upon the number of seniors and persons with disabilities residing in a state, according to the latest federal census data.
States receive and then allocate the funds by a grant or funding process. Recipients are nonprofit groups, government agencies when no nonprofits are available, and government agencies that coordinate transportation services. Some agencies provide transportation-only services. Others offer transportation services and social services, including meals, operating senior centers, and legal aid. The first step to learning senior transportation options in each state is to inquire with the state’s Department of Aging.
For Seniors, Easier, Reduced Cost Transportation Options May Override Owning an Automobile
In lieu of owning or leasing an automobile, at least eight options exist.
- Ride with family and friends.
- Ride with van or auto provided by many senior residences.
- Ride with personal driver who works per hour or by assignment for client.
- Ride with traditional taxi drivers.
- Ride with discounted driver services like Uber and Lyft.
- Ride on public transportation such as local buses.
- Ride with transportation services sponsored by the U.S. Department of Aging in coordination with state and city agencies.
- Ride with nonprofit, community-based transportation services, such as ITNAmerica.
In terms of convenience and cost, my Driving Ms. Joan Experiment convinced me that leaving the driving to qualified others supersedes driving one’s own automobile. To learn more about the transportation services available to seniors, read our earlier blog post on Giving up the car key’s doesn’t have to affect your parent’s mobility.
The next Joan’s Journey will appear during the last week of 2015. Join me in taking a look back at 2015 and a look forward to 2016. In the meantime, enjoy the journey day by day. From the staff of SeniorHomes.com and myself, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children.