Friday, August 23, 2019
The New York Times was considering that question in a recent article,Older People Need Rides. Why Aren’t They Using Uber and Lyft?
More than half of adults over 65 own smartphones, the Pew Research Center has reported. Yet among adults 50 and older, only about a quarter used ride-hailing services in 2018 (a leap, however, from 7 percent in 2015). By comparison, half of those aged 18 to 29 had used them.
In a survey by AARP last year, only 29 percent of those over 50 had used ride-hailing apps. Two-thirds said they weren’t likely to do so in the coming year, citing in part concerns about safety and privacy. (Given data breaches at Uber, that’s no baseless fear.)
So wouldn't these options help people remain more independent, especially while we wait for self-driving cars to become widely available for all of us? One expert quoted in the article said absolutely! "One reason for such optimism: evidence that with personalized instruction, older adults can master the mobile apps and take “networked transportation” to medical appointments, entertainment and leisure activities, social visits and fitness classes."
A recent study from U.S.C. covered in the article noted when the researchers "offered three free months of unlimited Lyft rides to 150 older people in and around Los Angeles (average age: 72) who had chronic diseases and reported transportation problems... [w]ith training, nearly all used Lyft, most through the mobile app (a few used a call-in service), for an average of 69 trips. On follow-up questionnaires, almost all riders reported improved quality of life."
That's great news but the companies are seeing an opportunity here.
Lyft and Uber and others are contracting with third parties, bypassing the need for older riders to use apps or to have smartphones at all.
They’re joining forces with health care systems, for instance. In the past 18 months, more than 1,000 — including MedStar, in the Washington area, and the Boston Medical Center — have signed on with Uber Health for “nonemergency medical transportation,” the company said.
Case managers and social workers can use Uber or Lyft to ferry patients to or from clinics and offices, reducing missed appointments.
In addition, they are working with various senior communities and exploring other programs for those who have mobility issues, including the ability to order accessible transportation and training drivers of how to assist riders with mobility issues! There are other smaller companies carving out a part of the market, whether portal-to-portal service or the ability to call for a ride by phone. The article also explores the potential costs in using ride-hailing services.
In the U.S.C. study, the typical trip cost $22; the cost per month, had users actually paid it, averaged $500. After the study, about a fifth of riders said they wouldn’t continue using ride-hailing, mostly because of cost.
Some Medicare Advantage programs now cover rides to medical appointments and pharmacies; Lyft expects to partner with most Advantage plans by next year....But most older Americans still use traditional Medicare, which doesn’t cover such transportation.