For seniors unable to drive, getting around the Bay Area presents daunting challenges. While we can depend on family and friends to take us where we need to go, many seniors don’t like to impose or feel they are a burden, or don’t have nearby support.
Driving represents much more than simply a way to get from point A to point B. It is synonymous with freedom, independence and living life to the fullest. When we lose our ability or license to drive, we lose a significant part of our life. It is no coincidence that feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety increase when someone can no longer drive.
Avoiding depression is the key to preventing the isolation that can accompany the loss of independent driving. Taking advantage of alternative transportation options available to seniors can lessen isolation and depression and allow seniors to continue to lead full and active lives. While the prices of these transportation services vary, the emotional price paid for not taking advantage of them is significant.
In 2005, OUTREACH, a non-profit, public benefit corporation founded more than 30 years ago, created the Senior Transportation Program in response to the need for transportation services for seniors living in Santa Clara County. The program provides transportation to people over 65, regardless of income. It supports seniors in several ways.
Americans with Disabilities Act Paratransit Service Program fare subsidies. The ADA paratransit program provides transportation to those unable to use the bus system because of physical or cognitive limitations. The Senior Transportation Program subsidizes bus fares, lowering the cost of a paratransit ride to $1.50 per trip.
Public transit passes. The Senior Transportation Program provides a limited number of subsidized monthly passes/stickers for seniors with Regional Transit Connection cards. Seniors using Valley Transportation Authority buses and light-rail service are eligible for two public-transit stickers that entitle them to use the services at no cost. The standard price for a senior transit pass is $25 per month.
Subsidized taxi/non-taxi services. For seniors ineligible for the ADA Paratransit Program or those who cannot get to their destination by public transit, this program provides door-to-door transportation in cars or taxis. Once enrolled, a senior is permitted 40 one-way trips (or 20 roundtrips) per year. Because of the high demand and limited resources, requests might not be able to be filled immediately, or riders might have to share vehicles. Seniors requesting transportation to medical appointments have priority. To use this service, riders must make a reservation at least 48 hours in advance. Transportation is available 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day (including weekends and holidays) within Santa Clara County.
Because donations and grants fund the subsidized service, riders receive a quarterly statement listing the number of trips and a request for a rider’s fare of $3.50 per trip. Payment is voluntary, and ability to pay does not affect eligibility.
To apply for Senior Transportation Program services, call (408) 436-2865.
El Camino Hospital
The volunteer RoadRunners Transportation Service, sponsored by El Camino Hospital, has provided transportation to seniors for more than 25 years. The service is available 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. weekdays over a 10-mile radius (or 15-minute drive) of El Camino Hospital at 530 South Drive in Mountain View.
El Camino Hospital provides eight vehicles for transportation, while RoadRunners provides the volunteer drivers to operate the vehicles. RoadRunners charges based on mileage, so a one-way trip to Menlo Park or Los Gatos could cost approximately $17, while a one-way trip to Los Altos would run $4.50-$6.50. RoadRunners will take passengers to any location, such as senior centers, banks and barber and beauty shops within the 10-mile area around the hospital.
To reserve a space, call 940-7016. At least 48 hours’ notice is required, and spaces book quickly.
Community Services Agency
The primary goal of the Senior Services Program of the Community Services Agency is to help senior residents in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View maintain their independence and remain in their homes as long as possible. This goal is accomplished through a comprehensive program incorporating social workers, caseworkers and volunteers. Of the many services the agency provides, transportation is always in high demand. If a client requires medical advocacy, one of the agency’s caseworkers will accompany and transport the client to medical appointments. Agency volunteers take clients shopping, to the post office or assist them in running other errands. Services are free if the senior is a CSA client.
For more information, call 968-0836, ext. 131.
Love In the Name of Christ
Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) is a non-profit, nondenominational national Christian organization that connects the resources of local churches with needs of people in the community. The group has provided transportation to seniors for more than two decades.
A Love INC volunteer will assess the senior’s needs and contact a volunteer from one of its neighborhood churches. Transportation services are provided free to seniors residing in Santa Clara County, regardless of religious beliefs or income level. Due to high demand, seniors are limited to two trips per month within Santa Clara County, 10 days advance notice is required.
For more information, call (408) 723-9201 between 9 a.m. and noon weekdays.