LIFE ElderCare, in a new partnership with Lyft, has launched VIP Zip to provide transportation solutions for older adults.
Unreliable transportation can leave seniors stuck at home and this new program aims to change that. VIP Zip provides easy-to-access ride services that help seniors get out and about at a reasonable cost.
To kick-start the program, LIFE ElderCare was awarded a $45,000 grant by CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer, to start a safe, reliable, on-demand ride opportunity for Alameda County seniors.
Seeking to eliminate transportation inefficiencies and burdensome scheduling requirements, VIP Zip offers a live operator to book on-demand rides during the weekdays without the need for a smartphone. While many are aware of and comfortable with ride sharing apps, the technology requirements – a smartphone and an app – make it difficult for many older adults, particularly those on a fixed budget.
“VIP Zip gives older adults the flexibility and opportunity to travel on their terms, whether it is for doctors’ appointments, a trip to the grocery store, or just visiting family and friends,” said Patricia Osage, LIFE ElderCare executive director.
Many studies show that seniors who’ve stopped driving are more likely to suffer from depression and feel their quality of life has diminished. Older, non-drivers make fewer medical appointments, shop less and engage in fewer activities than their driving peers, according to the American Public Transportation Association.
“By partnering with Lyft, VIP Zip eliminates a key barrier to mobility,” said Osage. “Some older adults don’t have easy access to public transportation or aren’t comfortable with existing options. We’re so happy to be able to offer this service now and look forward to serving seniors throughout Alameda County.”
While good public transportation is in place in most Bay Area cities, many older residents struggle with navigating steps and curbs, waiting for long periods, or walking long distances that a bus or BART might require.
On-demand services like Lyft solve these issues, but require an app, which prevents seniors without smartphones from using them. And, even those who do have smartphones, often need extra help using the apps.
VIP ZIP’S trained staff will dispatch and route the trips and offer added levels of service to make sure riders complete their rides safely and successfully. Similar senior ride services have sprung up, but they tend to be expensive due to add-on fees.
The CSAA Insurance Group-funded program has no extra fees and can even help subsidize fares for low-income seniors.
Along with LIFE ElderCare, two San Francisco organizations are also supported by CSAA Insurance Group: The Institute on Aging and Little Brother Friends of the Elderly will both be starting the same service across the Bay.