Nearly 1,000 Ride Share Services Available to Nation’s Seniors
First-of-its-kind analysis describes ride share services available to seniors.
CHICAGO, Dec. 5, 2019 — An analysis by NORC at the University of Chicago and ITNAmerica of Westbrook, ME, shows that seniors have access to nearly 1,000 ride share services across the United States to help meet their transportation needs. The study looked at non-profit and for-profit ride share services available to seniors. While the study found that health care was the most common reason to use non-profit ride share (43 percent), the majority of rides were for other personal needs, such as shopping, trips to the hairdresser, getting to work or volunteer activities, or just having fun.
This environmental scan is the first part of a three-year study of all ride share services for seniors in the United States conducted on behalf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Older adults in the United States rely on private automobiles for transportation, taking 9 out of 10 personal trips in cars, either as drivers or as passengers. As the population ages, this dependence poses safety and transportation problems for older drivers. If they remain in the driver’s seat, they face the highest crash risk per mile driven of any group except teenagers. If they stop driving, they face limited transportation options. The purpose of the study was to determine whether ride share services could help address this unmet need.
“This study found that many adults age 75 and over require high touch personal service to travel safely, remain in their homes, and actively engage in their communities,” said Alycia Bayne, principal research scientist at NORC and an author of the white paper. According to the research, that level of service is primarily provided to seniors by non-profit ride share services. The non-profit ride share services in this study schedule rides in advance and provide personal assistance to riders.
The study also found that for-profit ride share services that deliver rides for the general population are working to meet the mobility needs of older people. For-profit ride share services are building relationships with health care providers and senior living facilities to serve older adults. However, their independent contractor business model prevents them from directing drivers to help older riders with special needs such as folding walkers, carrying groceries, or escorting older passengers through the door at their destination.
The study found that geographic location also affects the availability of ride share services, with urban seniors having far more transportation options. Suburban and rural seniors may be more likely to use the non-profit ride share services where and when they are available. Many of the non-profit ride share services rely on volunteer drivers. For the non-profits, demand for services outstrips supply.
According to Katherine Freund, executive director of ITNAmerica and lead author of the white paper, “When they are available, ride share services help America’s seniors remain actively engaged in their communities, protecting them from the social isolation that can come when older people limit or stop driving. A lack of transportation can even stand in the way of older adults getting to and from vital health care appointments and basic necessities. Ride share services help seniors overcome this barrier.”
The report defines “ride share” as transportation arranged through a third party, where a person is a passenger in a private automobile. A second phase of this study will explore older adults’ attitudes and beliefs toward using ride share services.
Among the key findings from the report:
- People age 65 and older who used non-profit ride share services most frequently were women (74 percent), living alone (62 percent), and Caucasian (93 percent) with an average age of 81. More than a quarter of these users used a cane (29 percent) or a walker (27 percent), and more than 1 in 20 used a wheelchair (5 percent).
- Two-thirds (66 percent) of older adults who used non-profit ride share services no longer drove; however, most (72 percent) still had a license or owned a car (60 percent).
- Seven out of 10 riders reported their physical health as excellent, very good, or good.
- Eighteen percent of riders required driver assistance such as lending an arm for balance, pushing a wheelchair, or buckling a seatbelt.
- The telephone, rather than a mobile app, is the predominant means for older adults to request and schedule rides.
- Seven in 10 riders had an annual income less than $50,000, and 41 percent had an income less than $25,000.
- More ride share services are available in higher population density communities than in rural and suburban communities.
- All of the for-profit ride share services studied offered rides for any purpose, and 63 percent of non-profits offered rides for any purpose.
- For-profit ride share services predominantly provided services on demand, and almost 100 percent of non-profits studied scheduled ride share services in advance.
“This study found that many adults age 75 and over require high touch personal service to travel safely, remain in their homes, and actively engage in their communities.”
NORC at the University of Chicago conducted an environmental scan of ride share services available to adults age 65 and older. The environmental scan was based on an analysis of ITNRides (ITNAmerica’s ride scheduling software and research database) data from 27 locations across the country, representing 793,313 trips and 10,010 riders from 1996 to October 2019; an analysis of ITNAmerica’s Rides in Sight senior transportation provider database; a targeted review of the literature; and key informant interviews with representatives from ride share services and other stakeholders.
ITNAmerica is a national non-profit organization based in Westbrook, ME, with a mission to promote lifelong mobility for seniors. ITNAmerica supports sustainable, community-based transportation by leading a national transportation network grounded in research, policy analysis, and education.
About NORC at the University of Chicago
NORC at the University of Chicago conducts research and analysis that decision-makers trust. As a nonpartisan research organization and a pioneer in measuring and understanding the world, we have studied almost every aspect of the human experience and every major news event for more than eight decades. Today, we partner with government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world to provide the objectivity and expertise necessary to inform the critical decisions facing society.
Contact: For more information, please contact Eric Young at NORC at email@example.com or (703) 217-6814 (cell).