For those of us young and/or mobile, being stuck without a car can be a huge inconvenience. It might just be the first time we type ‘wake county transportation services’ into our search bar!
But, what if driving is no longer an option?
You’re now dependent on someone else to help you see family, go grocery shopping, or even get out of the house. It’s not hard to see why a lot of seniors would self-impose isolation for fear of being a burden. And this can be deadly.
According to the NCBI, isolation brings a higher risk of negative health outcomes. Falling, dementia, and mortality all have higher rates in isolated seniors.
Additionally, “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.”
It’s tough for seniors to get around. So, they stop trying for one or more reasons and the negative impact on their health is significant.
We can reverse this trend! We’ve put together this helpful directory of Wake County transportation services for seniors.
Wake County Transportation Services: Public Transit
The “Go” Family of Buses: Triangle, Raleigh, and Cary
The primary bus line in Wake County, seniors have free access when they sign up for a GoRaleigh ID and can receive discounted bus passes for GoCary and GoTriangle.
Never used the bus before? Too scared to try it without knowing more? GoTriangle has a “How to Ride the Bus” section to clear up any concerns you or your loved one might have.
GoTriangle buses are also wheelchair accessible!
Shared-Ride Transportation Services in Wake County
Your loved one may not have immediate access to Public transit or cannot due to disability. But, there are a few ride-sharing programs here in Wake County that serve as great alternatives.
GoWake Access (formerly TRACS or Wake Coordinated Transportation Service)
Adults 60 and above in Wake County are eligible to use this low-cost shared-ride transportation resource for those unable to use the fixed route service. Adults under the age of 60 can be eligible if they are authorized for medicaid transportation.
Trips can cost as little as $2 if a senior’s origin and destination are in the same zone. Wake County has four zones of service: Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern.
While Uber/Lyft have become very viable options in the area, GoWake can be more cost-effective. It’s also a service that prioritizes seniors (Medicaid recipients, elderly and otherwise, ride free).
GoWake isn’t as convenient in the sense that you can’t use a smartphone and hail a driver in real-time. But, if you know your origin and destination and call ahead the day before, it’s a nice local option worth considering, especially if you receive medicaid.
Scheduled rides can provide transportation for doctor visits (if close family aren’t available), grocery shopping, or a chance to get out and about on a beautiful day.
This program functions similarly GoWake Access but its three services (Medical, Nutrition Site, and Grocery shopping transportation) have stricter requirements for eligibility.
Medical Transportation: Residents cannot live in Raleigh/Cary, do not have Medicaid, do not have a driver’s license, and must have no other means of transportation. Trips are limited to two or three rides per month and appointments must be made days in advance. Seniors with frequent import medical and healthcare visits should seek alternatives.
Nutrition Site Transportation: Those who qualify must be approved for meals by Meals on Wheels and must live within five miles of a meals site.
Grocery Shopping Transportation: Limited to residents of specific senior housing sites.
The service has three tiers that differ based on the distance away from a fixed route boundary (local to Cary). The longer the route, the higher the cost (with Chapel Hill as the most expensive destination at $9 per trip).
Download the Door to Door Service brochure for more detailed information on the program.
Those who do not qualify include seniors receiving Medicaid (since transportation is provided with other organizations), those confined to a wheelchair (the volunteer cannot transport a wheelchair), and those who cannot take public transportation must be able to demonstrate that.
Allen’s Transportation Services in Wake County
The aforementioned smartphone-savvy ridesharing platforms are available to seniors in Wake County. If you or your loved one do not have a smartphone, however, you still have access to their services. Each platform allows for the booking of rides via desktop or a mobile browser, though this does not include access to premium services.
Drivers, however, may not be able to accommodate seniors with disabilities, although Uber is currently (as of November 2018) piloting UberWAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles) in several major cities.
While not currently available in the Cary and Raleigh area, this may change in the future. In fact, Lyft has a written policy regarding wheelchair access, but no specific service currently in the works similar to UberWAV.
Hailing a driver is in real-time, but that also means quality may vary from driver to driver. Some drivers may be more experienced than others as there’s no certification process and/or training done by Lyft/Uber.
Another drawback is that the pricing for Uber and Lyft fluctuates based on rider demand and driver availability. Despite the convenience, it’s important to have a fall back option in the event a ride becomes too expensive.
Similar to shared ride transportation, these transportation services take care of the logistics for you at varying rates depending on the vendor. The services may provide longer/specialized routes, near real-time responses to requests, and special accommodations.
Senior Volunteer Databases
A number of national organizations provide a database of opportunities for people interested in helping seniors and this often includes transportation.
Church Transportation Ministries
Keep Our Seniors Moving!
Seniors (and people in general) are healthier when they’re active in their community and spending time with friends and family. Aging in place doesn’t mean seniors have to stay in place.
Have a Wake County transportation services resource you’d like to include we didn’t mention? Send kmurray(at)awareseniorcare.com a message!