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Alternative Transportation: Public Transportation

Check into buses, vanpools and special transit services for older adults.

En español | In a 2006 AARP poll, 9 out of 10 people age 50+ said they want to remain in their home and community for as long as possible. Yet drivers age 70 and older are expected to outlive their driving years—men by 7 years and women by 10. Knowing your transportation options, and being comfortable using them, can help you remain independent in your community as you age.


To meet the needs of riders of all ages, many buses now offer passenger-friendly features such as low floors, “kneeling” functions to ease entry, audio and visual bus stop announcements, and other improvements.

In addition to regular fixed routes, many communities offer local shuttles, circulators, and buses that stop whenever a rider flags them along the route. Discounted rates are often available to older people and those with disabilities.

Vanpools and Ridesharing

Vanpools and other ridesharing arrangements are not just for commuters going to and from work. Vans operated by local nonprofits or businesses may take you to shopping malls or doctor appointments. If you drive, consider giving a lift to a friend or neighbor. During rush hour, you may qualify to use a car pool or express lane and save time as well.

Researching Your Options

Use these resources to find transportation options in your community:

• Your local transit agency. Call or visit its website, which may have detailed information on routes, schedules, and fares. Many transit providers at the state and local levels are listed within the Resource Library on the American Public Transportation Association website.
• Also, many transit agencies provide special services for people with qualifying disabilities. To learn about eligibility, contact your local transit provider.

• Many states are setting up additional numbers for government services. Though not available everywhere, these numbers may help you find information about local transportation options:
  »» 211 (human services)
  »» 311 (government information and non-emergency services)
  »» 511 (travel information)

Special Transportation Options

Special transportation options, generally targeted toward people with limited mobility, are available in many areas. These services may include:
• Dial-a-ride or other transportation for people unable to use fixed-route services. Vans or mini-buses are typically used to take riders to a doctor’s office or other destinations.
• Transportation programs sponsored or operated by nonprofit or faith-based organizations. These programs may employ volunteer drivers or work in conjunction with local governments.

• Taxis. In addition to regular taxi service, there may be voucher programs and other subsidies for those with limited mobility, as well as vehicles specifically designed for accessibility.
• Ride and car sharing programs. Companies such as ZipCar let drivers rent cars without hassle and save on the high cost of owning a car. Programs such as GoLoco and Avego encourage commuters to share car travel and split costs. Both programs use the web to establish communications among their members.

What You Should Do

Do you have concerns or complaints about existing service? If so, document them and then contact your local transit agency.

If transit service is lacking or nonexistent, contact your local government, elected officials, or local Office on Aging and share your thoughts about what is needed. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. If you aren’t satisfied with the response, take your concerns to higher elected officials.