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Transportation Services for Seniors in Wake County

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Transportation Services for Seniors in Wake County

Lindsay Schinasi
Transportation Coordinator
The Center for Volunteer Caregiving

  In today's “smart-phone society,” being stuck without a car is a huge headache that leaves us hailing the closest Knight-in-Shining Uber. However, for seniors who face long-term or permanent transportation challenges, the search for an alternative can be a difficult and confusing process.

  As the new Transportation Coordinator at The Center for Volunteer Caregiving, the past six weeks has been a sort of self-guided crash course on both transportation needs and available services for seniors in Wake County. Despite having easy access to online and in-person resources, the maze of information that I have encountered in my quest to understand Wake Country transportation is overwhelming.  I'm not surprised at the bleak statistics:  "Seniors age 65 and older who no longer drive make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer trips to shop or eat out, and 65 percent fewer trips to visit friends and family, than drivers of the same age.”

  While there are numerous public and private organizations that assist seniors with transportation, the information about the costs, scope, and eligibility requirements is often vague or confusing. Not to mention, the services and programs they offer are limited.  Car services or taxis add extra fees for crossing a city limit.  Some public transit systems will not hop town borders at all.  TRACS is a medical transportation program that is free for Medicaid recipients and offered to others for a small fee, but some report it is unreliable.  Often, para-transit services restrict pick-up locations to those within close proximity.  Many city bus routes stop at the one main transportation hub in town, making routes long and inefficient.  Adding to this are physical challenges that may affect transportation choices.  In order to find ways to move around independently, it is crucial that seniors consider their ability to access the vehicle, walk from the drop off point to their destination, and carry any items purchased.

  In November 2016, Wake County residents will have the opportunity to vote in favor of a Transit Plan that will, over the next decade, greatly improve access to and availability of public transportation options.  In the meantime, there are some community members and organizations that are willing to help seniors tackle the challenges they face when they can no longer drive.  Here at The Center for Volunteer Caregiving, I help seniors and adults with disabilities learn about different transportation options which might be available to them.  For those people who do not have sufficient resources available, The Center also organizes a team of dedicated volunteers who are able to help transport those most in need to medical appointments or on essential errands.  The Center’s program is one of the few that offers no-cost, escorted door-to-door services for those who require extra help and do not have assistance from family or resources that assist.  Another organization, The Alliance of Disability Advocates, offers an amazing Travel Training program that helps people with disabilities and seniors navigate the transit system.

  For those who are reading this and are in the process of trying to find transportation resources, I encourage you keep at it!   I recently talked to “John,” who learned about C-Tran vouchers and now rides the bus to volunteer as a mentor for children.  He exemplifies the importance of transportation for independent and happy seniors.  While it can seem like an overwhelming task, you can do it!

Lindsay


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