What are some non-driving transportation options for seniors?

drJune2016On June 16th, 2016, five panelists gathered at the Brookline Senior Center to share with the public their expertise and experienced getting around without driving. The panelists all use a combination of various options, including walking, cycling, taking the T, riding the bus, using The RIDE, and using ride-hailing apps like Uber, Lyft, and Fasten.

Update: Complete video of this panel discussion is now available on YouTube!

As one panelist at our May panel discussion said, for almost all of us, driving retirement isn’t a possibility; it’s a certainty. Most of us outlive our ability to drive by 7-10 years! The question for us here at TRIPPS is how are you going to spend those years–what will be your quality of life, your engagement with your community, your levels of independence and freedom when you’re no longer driving?

Our goal is to help everyone anticipate and plan for their own driving retirement the same way they might anticipate and plan for retiring from work.

Over years of driving, most of us come to think of our car as a quick, convenient, and cheap way of getting around. However, I would ask you to consider some of the aspects of driving that we usually become blind to over the course of our years behind the wheel. Over time, we simply come to accept these aspects of driving as part of life, and we rarely think about them:

  • traffic jams that slow us down;
  • parking that takes ages to find and walk from to our final destination;
  • maintenance and paperwork that dog us from week to week and month to month to keep our cars running and street legal; and
  • the estimated $750 the average American pays each month to own and operate their own vehicle.
  • Not to mention the stress and strain of driving: when you have to go into Boston or even go down to New York, how many of you will drive into the city instead of taking a taxi or a train?

For many people, driving is just too much of a hassle.

How quick, convenient, and cheap does driving sound to you now?

Consider the many non-driving options in our area, which we really are so lucky to have available to us. When we’re stuck in our “driving habit,” it’s easy for us to see only the negative aspects of those other options. The T can be crowded and experience delays. Walking exposes you to the elements and can be intimidating, sharing the road with cars and trucks. Ride-hailing apps and taxis can be so expensive and confusing. And so on and so on.

Just like driving, other options do have their downsides. But just as we’ve learned to adjust to traffic jams, waiting at the mechanic shop, and writing our checks for insurance, gas, car payments, and repairs each month, we can also learn to adjust to the less pleasant aspects of using non-driving options as well.

  • We can read a book, chat with a friend on the phone, or do a crossword puzzle when we’re waiting for The RIDE.
  • We can look at that $750 we spend on our car each month and think about how many convenient, door-to-door taxi rides that would get us.
  • We can invest in a rain jacket and a pair of good shoes and enjoy the fresh air as we arrive at our destination right on time–because when we walk, we know pretty much exactly how long it will take us to get there, without having to factor in traffic and parking.

Many of the seniors we work with find themselves looking down the path toward driving retirement and beginning to prepare. While they are still young and still driving, they start to add tools to their toolkit. They wisely diversify their transportation portfolio, making sure they’ll never be left without familiar, dependable options for getting where they want to go. The earlier you connect with our volunteer transit advisors, the more we can do to help.

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