There are many ways to get around besides driving. Sometimes, these other ways may be preferable to driving for certain trips, even if you are still an active driver.
By becoming familiar with these travel options now, you can:
- Practice using them in your community while you still have a choice of driving or not driving
- Have a backup plan for emergencies or when road conditions are not favorable
- Avoid travel difficulties or surprises later
Assessing your transportation options
Where do you need to go? Think about where you need to go so you can review your travel options and plan on how to get there. Answering the questions below is the first step in making your plan.
- Where will I be going?
- Do I need to make multiple stops during the trip (grocery, doctor’s office, bank)?
- How close or far are these places from a public transportation route?
- When do I need a ride (times and dates)?
- Will I be traveling with members of my family or friends?
- Can I negotiate my appointment times to help make my travel easier?
Taking charge of your travel
Decisions to limit or stop driving can be difficult for many people. Exploring and discussing these issues with someone you trust, before they become critical, can help. Understand that we should not stop being mobile if we stop driving; there are lots of other ways to get around.
The biggest issue is how to get from Point A to Point B if you are not driving. Knowing what transportation options are available to you and planning ahead can make getting there less stressful and help you maintain your independence.
What are your choices for local travel?
This section is designed to help you identify available transportation alternatives in your area. Do you sometimes want to take trips that do not involve driving? Are you thinking about limiting or stopping driving? There are many ways to get where you need to go, so you can remain engaged in activities that are important to you, even if you do not drive to get there. No single method of transportation is likely to meet all your needs.
Family and friends
The most common alternative to driving is getting rides from family members and friends. This mode of transportation may seem more familiar, comfortable and social to many older adults. That said, there may be conflicting feelings of burdening or inconveniencing others. Some people may want to do something in exchange for the ride.
Public transportation (also called mass transit) and paratransit services
Public transportation, where available and convenient, can be an affordable option for some people. These services generally offer pickup at designated stops and destinations.
Paratransit services have been referred to as Dial-a-Ride or Elderly and Disabled Transportation Services. These programs are almost always provided by public transit agencies.
Local service programs that offer rides
These are locally developed programs, often sponsored by faith-based or nonprofit organizations, that provide rides for older adults. The programs may charge nominal fees or accept donations, and often operate with the help of volunteer drivers.
Taxis or car services
These private services offer flexible scheduling and charge a fee. Many older adults may perceive these services as expensive or a luxury, but they can cost much less than owning and maintaining a car. Some taxi or car services may be willing to set up accounts that allow other family members to pay for services. Budget permitting, some people might want to hire their own driver.
Private organizations or bus shuttles
Services such as adult day centers, sheltered workshops, housing programs, churches and synagogues, and stores, malls or other businesses may offer transportation for program participants or customers.
How can you pay for trips?
It is important to remember that owning and operating a vehicle is expensive! When you compute your actual expenses for owning and operating your vehicle, you will discover two things:
- How much you are already spending on transportation
- How much money could be available for another travel mode if you are thinking about not driving