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For many older adults, transportation is a key to staying independent. However, for some, driving to appointments, shopping, services, or activities may no longer be possible due to health conditions or other circumstances. This article details some transportation options for adults who may no longer have access to a vehicle or be able to drive. These options include public transportation, transportation vans, medical transportation services, volunteer-based transportation services, taxis, and rideshare services. 

Transportation is independence

For many older adults, transportation is a key to staying independent. However, for some, driving to appointments, shopping services, or activities may no longer be possible due to health or other circumstances. There are, however, many public and private transportation options that may help older adults maintain their independence, including public transportation, transportation vans, medical transportation services, volunteer-based services, taxis, and rideshare services.

Public transportation

Many large cities and some suburban areas have public buses, rail lines, and subways that can be used for local shopping and medical appointments. The benefits of public transportation are regular routes, stops, and schedules and affordability especially as compared to taxis or ridesharing services. For those who have physical limitations, public transit agencies are also required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to offer paratransit services. Such services accommodate those with disabilities, providing rides to medical appointments, pharmacies, and grocery stores. Paratransit services typically must be scheduled in advance and may require documentation of disability.1 

Transportation vans

Transportation van services for older adults are often coordinated by cities, local senior centers, or agencies on aging. Private senior housing providers such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities may also provide local transportation to medical appointments, pharmacies, and other local shopping destinations. These services often require scheduling in advance to ensure a ride is available when needed. 

Medical transportation services

Medical transportation services exist in many communities to provide older adults with transportation to medical appointments. Some of these services are coordinated through senior centers and councils on aging. Cities and towns may also offer local volunteer programs that help with scheduling transportation to medical appointments for community residents. 

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) is a Medicaid benefit providing travel to medical appointments. Some private insurances may also cover non-emergency medical transportation. Individuals may check with their insurance providers to learn more.2 

Volunteer-based transportation

Volunteer transportation services are offered by a variety of religious and non-profit organizations across the country.3 Services may include door-to-door transportation or ‘door-through-door’ transportation that provides additional assistance for older adults who may have trouble navigating cars, doors, and buildings.4 


Most cities and towns offer taxi services. Such services may be best for those who need minimal assistance but who cannot use or do not wish to use public transportation. In major cities, taxis can often be hailed on the street and do not need to be called, but in smaller cities or suburban areas, it may often be necessary to call a taxi to request a pickup. Taxis may also be expensive.

Ridesharing services

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of ridesharing/ride-hailing services that may be arranged through an app on a phone or other digital device. Most ridesharing services offer a range of accessible vehicles, but the costs can be significant. In addition, some older adults may not feel comfortable with the technology, forcing them to rely on others for help. 


Uber is an on-demand rideshare service that coordinates rides through its Uber mobile app. Rides may be ordered at the time they are needed or scheduled in advance. Uber also offers services under Uber Health geared to medical transportation requests. Uber Health rides can be requested through their website as well as the mobile app for increased scheduling options for older adults who do not have access to or know how to use a smartphone.5


Lyft is an on-demand rideshare service that coordinates rides through its Lyft mobile app. As with other rideshare services, rides may be ordered when needed or scheduled in advance. Lyft also offers services through Lyft Up that are geared toward providing grocery access, voting access, and access to medical appointments.6 


GoGoGrandparent is a subscription-based transportation service that provides rides for older adults and people with disabilities without the need for a smartphone. It coordinates on-demand rides through existing ride-share service providers including Lyft and Uber. The service is available in all 50 states and individuals may call to be connected with an agent who can check for ride availability in the travel area. This service is designed for older adults who are unable or uninterested in using a smartphone app.7

How to find local transportation options

Often decisions on which transportation method to use will come down to availability, accessibility, and cost. Many resources exist to help connect older adults and those with disabilities with available transportation services in their area. 

  • 2-1-1. Each state has a 2-1-1 information and referral service that is made up of regional and local agencies that maintain resource listings including transportation services based on zip code, city/state, and region. They can be reached by entering 2-1-1 from most phones or visiting 211.org.8
  • Senior centers and councils on aging. Local senior centers and councils on aging can provide listings of volunteer and local programs focused on transportation for older adults. 
  • Senior housing communities. Senior housing communities can identify services provided by their facility or the city or town.
  • Health and human services non-profits. Many health and human services non-profit organizations operate transportation services for older adults who meet certain criteria. 
  • VTS. The Veterans Affairs Transportation program offers rides to veterans traveling from VA care facilities to other eligible healthcare appointments.  
  • AAAs. Area agencies on aging (AAA) have referral specialists familiar with resources in the area who can provide suggestions and help connect people to transportation options that meet their needs.9

Related information

Curtailing unsafe driving habits

Modifying driving habits of older adults

Physically limiting vehicle access for unsafe drivers

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