The challenge of helping older adults successfully “age in place” is likely to become critical as our nation’s 65-and-older population doubles in size from 43.1 million in 2012 to 83.7 million by 2050.
Transportation is a significant challenge for older adults; the average American man outlives his ability to drive by six years, and the average American woman outlives hers by 10. Most of them live in areas with few, if any, transportation alternatives, which means their options for remaining mobile begin and end in their driveway.
The Ryde4Life program was designed by Alliance for a Healthier Asbury Park partner EZRide, to help older adults in New Jersey access safe, flexible and affordable transportation by partnering with foundations, government, and transportation network companies (TNC) such as Lyft and Uber. In addition, it attempts to address both “transportation gaps” and the “digital divide,” two pressing concerns as more private, tech-driven transportation services such as Lyft and Uber complement, or even replace, existing public options.
Rides are provided in real-time, with no advanced reservation requirements. The riders do not need a smartphone, but must have a cell phone. To request a trip, participants call a toll free phone number and EZ Ride Coordinators schedule the ride from Lyft, and monitor and assist if needed.
Thanks to the Communities Moving to Action grant from NJHI which supports the Alliance, the pilot program provides free rides up to a maximum total of $100 for qualified Asbury Park residents. Riders should have a Medicaid, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Pharmaceutical Assistance for Aged and Disabled (PAAD) card and complete an application form.
More than 50 residents have already signed up for the program. Here are some interesting insights about this group of community members:
- The average age is 78.
- About two-thirds of the participants are women.
- More than half of the members are residents of Asbury Towers.
- About 75 percent of them do not have an email address.
- The average cost of a requested ride is less than $12.
- Approximately half of the 80 trips provided to date have been for medical purposes.
The total fee of the program has been nominal – about $1,000, which is a far cry from most shuttle programs that cost more than $100,000 and are difficult to customize for each rider.
Non-profit organizations such as the Affordable Housing Alliance, Ocean Community Economic Action Now, and more recently, Essex County have partnered with EZ Ride to offer the Ryde4Life program to their residents. To learn more about Ryde4Life and the Alliance for a Healthier Asbury Park, connect with our project director and follow us on Facebook.