Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing, or ride-hailing, services have proven to be convenient transportation options for smartphone-savvy consumers. In fact, a fall 2018 Pew Research Center survey revealed that 36 percent of adults in the United States say they have used such a service. Young adults in urban areas are the most frequent users. But did you know rideshare services could also be an important resource for older adults?
Benefits of Ridesharing for Seniors
When a senior must give up their car keys, they are giving up a big piece of their independence. For decades, they’ve been free to run errands, visit friends and travel as they wished, and now their easy access to these essential outings is gone. For other seniors who’ve been lifelong city-dwellers and have now relocated to a more suburban or rural setting, perhaps they’ve never had a car – or even a license – and now they face far fewer taxi and public transit options. Or maybe a car is no longer affordable on their fixed income. Whatever the case, ride-sharing can help seniors overcome some of their independence obstacles and help them enjoy some important benefits, including:
- Freedom: Whether your loved one has a medical appointment, needs to pick up a few groceries or wants to meet up with friends at a favorite restaurant, they don’t want to burden you by asking for a ride every time, nor is that realistic. Ridesharing for seniors can mean retaining their freedom and independence.
- Reliability: Unlike some senior transit services, Uber and Lyft drivers are reliable – or they risk negative ratings. These services also share important identifying information about the driver and the care passengers should expect, so seniors can feel confident in their safety.
- Convenience: With Uber and Lyft, seniors can get a ride when and where they need it without pre-scheduling. They also don’t need to worry about carrying cash for a cab, as riders are charged through the app.
- Point-to-point service: Senior vans often stop at multiple destinations and pick up many passengers, turning what should be a quick shopping trip into an all-day event or even causing your loved one to be late to a meet-up or appointment. With Uber, Lyft or a similar service, they can ride solo straight to the destination of their choice.
- Accessibility: Outside of urban areas, there are far fewer convenient public transportation options like cabs, buses and subways. But Uber, Lyft and other rideshare services are available almost everywhere.
Which Is Better for Seniors, Uber or Lyft?
Uber and Lyft cost about the same to use. Rates may vary depending on the time of day. Both services are available across the United States, and both offer easy-to-use apps.
- Hailing a Ride – Both Uber and Lyft offer workaround options for seniors who may not be tech-savvy or have a smartphone.
- The company GreatCall has partnered with Lyft, allowing seniors to access Lyft through their GreatCall Jitterbug phones. GreatCall customers with Jitterbug phones just have to press “0” to speak with an operator, who can book a Lyft ride for them. Billing for the rideshare service then appears on the customer’s regular GreatCall statement.
- Uber has partnered with 24 Hour Home Care’s operator service RideWith24™. RideWith24 provides access to Uber via a toll-free number (1-800-522-1516). This service is currently available in Arizona, California and Texas.
- Uber and Lyft both allow you to request a ride for a loved one or friend through the app. Both ridesharing services have also been building partnerships with senior care facilities across the nation. And, for an additional fee, seniors can use a hotline called GoGoGrandparent to hail a ride through Uber or Lyft.
- Accommodating Mobility Issues – For seniors with mobility issues or other disabilities, Uber offers services in many locations to make their transportation more accessible. Lyft just announced a new wheelchair accessible vehicle pilot in two counties in California.
Overall, the two services are fairly equal, though Uber is available in more locations and Lyft is often more transparent when it comes to pricing increases.
Do Uber and Lyft Offer Senior Discounts?
While neither Uber nor Lyft offers senior discounts at this time, during non-peak travel hours – and especially outside of major cities – their per-mile rates tend to be lower than taxi services, and they’re often more accessible. While senior transportation services may be a free, or cheaper, option, they are often multi-stop, multi-passenger forms of transit, so they’re less convenient.
Uber and Lyft for Seniors: How Does It Work?
In addition to the senior-specific access options mentioned above, tech-savvy seniors with smart devices can download the Uber or Lyft app and easily use it to access rideshare services.
To request a ride in the Uber app, a user has to:
- Download the Uber app and create an account.
- Open the app and enter a destination in the “Where to?” field.
- Swipe up to see all vehicle options available in the area. Tap one to select it, then tap “Choose Uber X.”
- The user may be asked to confirm the pickup location. If so, just move the pin on the map, or select from a list of locations, then tap “Confirm Pickup” to send a request to eligible drivers in the area.
- If not asked to confirm pickup, tap “Confirm UberX” to send a request to eligible drivers in the area.
- Once a driver accepts the request, your loved one will see their location and estimated time of arrival on the map. Uber will send notifications when the driver is close to the pickup location.
To request a ride in the Lyft app, a user has to:
- Download the Lyft app and create an account.
- Open the Lyft app, tap “search destination” and enter the destination. Users can enter an address or search for a location.
- Select the ride mode. Swipe left for economy, luxury or extra seating options.
- Tap “Select” to request a ride.
The pickup location for both apps will set to your loved one’s GPS location. Both also allow users to schedule trips for a later time.
Assuring Seniors’ Safety
To ensure these transit options are safe for seniors, both Lyft and Uber run continuous background checks on all drivers and send information like the vehicle’s license plate, make and model, and the driver’s name and photo to all ride requesters. Remind your loved one to check that the car and driver that pick them up match these credentials.
Need more peace of mind? Learn about personal GPS trackers that can help keep the seniors in your life safe.