Transportation for Seniors
Transportation services are important for seniors looking to maintain their independence or age in place. Fortunately, there are low cost, if not free, transportation services available to seniors nationwide. Medicare, Medicaid and Medicare Advantage offer coverage for both emergency and non-emergency travel while volunteer programs and local services offer low-cost alternatives.
Transportation Services for Elderly and Disabled
As difficult as it may be, there will come a time when it’s time to stop driving — both for your own safety and everyone else on the road. Most states require seniors to take a driving test again after they reach a certain age, and if you don’t pass the test, then you will lose your driver’s license.
Part of life after retirement is relying on others for transportation to remain active and connected to society. Luckily, there are many transportation services available for seniors or those who suffer from a disability. Most transportation options are low cost or free of charge.
- Dial 211
- Dialing 211 will connect you with essential community services, including low-cost senior transportation. 211 is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
- Volunteer programs and vouchers
- Both of these options offer transportation services. Vouchers typically have requirements. Volunteer programs vary in costs and services by state.
- Public transportation
- This option isn’t always best for seniors, since you need to travel to or from the bus stop or train station on a strict schedule.
- Paratransit offers transportation services as a door-to-door service. This program is required due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ACA). The ACA determines the eligibility requirements for Paratransit.
- Demand response
- Also known as dial-a-ride, demand response offers transportation services to seniors. This service requires reservations to be made at least 24 to 48 hours in advance.
- Eldercare Locator
- Eldercare Locator can connect you to local transportation resources.
- Non-emergency transportation services, like Uber or Lyft
- Uber and Lyft both offer occasional deals for low-cost or free transportation services for seniors.
Several of these options are covered by Medicare and Medicaid under specific circumstances. Learning what’s covered can help you find the right transportation option for the best price.
Transportation for Seniors to Medical Appointments
Volunteer transportation programs and transportation voucher programs can help get seniors to medical appointments at a low cost. Know that there are eligibility requirements for voucher programs, such as being disabled, having a low income or meeting the minimum age.
Several federal health insurance programs offer coverage to seniors for transportation to doctor’s appointments.
Medicaid will cover emergency transportation, like the cost of an ambulance ride to the hospital, as well as non-emergency medical transportation, such as a trip to your doctor’s office. Non-emergency medical transportation would be considered a taxi, bus, or other on-call service vehicle. Lyft has partnered with some Medicaid plans to offer transportation if you meet requirements. Keep in mind that Medicaid coverage varies by state.
Original Medicare also offers coverage for transportation services. Part A will cover your emergency transportation services and Part B will cover non-emergency transportation to a doctor’s appointment. It’s important to note that Part B will only cover routine trips if it’s deemed medically necessary by your doctor. You must meet your deductibles before coverage begins.
Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, will cover everything included in Original Medicare and may include more. For example, several Medicare Advantage plans offer added benefits, such as transportation to a local fitness center. Lyft has also partnered with Medicare Advantage plans to offer additional transportation services.
Lyft offers a concierge service through assisted living communities and various health organizations. This service allows medical professionals to book a Lyft for seniors trying to get to their medical appointments. This option would be beneficial for seniors who don’t own a smartphone or understand how to order a Lyft.
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Free Transportation Resources for Senior Citizens
Some, but not all, transportation vouchers can cover the full cost of your ride. Most volunteer programs and public transit options offer a discounted fee for seniors, but some may offer free rides as well. Confirm the costs of these services with your local programs and public transportation systems.
Lyft has been known to offer occasional free rides to seniors in the past. For example, seniors received a free ride to their COVID-19 vaccine appointment in 2021. In 2022, Lyft offered a $25 credit to seniors, so they can access voting booths during the election. Keep an eye out on Lyft’s website for other free transportation opportunities for seniors.
Volunteer Transportation for Seniors
The Community Transportation Association of America has an online map of volunteer driver programs. The map has hundreds of volunteer transportation options for seniors. Once you select a driver program on the map, you can go to their website and request transportation services.
The Eldercare locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, can also connect you to volunteer driver programs. You can go to their website and use the Eldercare community tool to find volunteer transportation services near you. You’ll need to input your zip code to receive a list of local services.
You can also dial the Eldercare Locator’s phone number instead if you don’t own a computer. Call 1-800-677-1116 to can connect with a specialist.
7 Cited Research Articles
- United HealthCare Services Inc. (2022, June 6). Does Medicare Cover Transportation Services? Retrieved from https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com/medicare-articles/medicare-transportation-services.html
- Community Transportation Association of America. (2022). Map of Volunteer Driver Programs. Retrieved from https://ctaa.org/nvtc-map/
- Federal Communications Commission. (2019, December 31). Dial 211 for Essential Community Services. Retrieved from https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/dial-211-essential-community-services
- Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission. (2019, May). Medicaid Coverage of Non-Emergency Medical Transportation. Retrieved from https://www.macpac.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Medicaid-Coverage-of-Non-Emergency-Medical-Transportation.pdf
- Eldercare Locator. (n.d.). Transportation Options for Older Adults and People with Disabilities. Retrieved from https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Resources/Brochures/docs/TransportationOptions_508_REV_20Sept2018.pdf
- Lyft. (n.d.). Rides for Every Need. Retrieved from https://www.lyft.com/business/industries/healthcare
- Eldercare Locator. (n.d.). Find Help in Your Community by Entering Your Zip Code or City and State. Retrieved from https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx