Mobility crisis? | February 3, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

- February 3, 2017

Mobility crisis?

Non-driving seniors navigate ridesharing options

by Chris Kenrick

At 88, Carol Dondick has not allowed her decision to stop driving interfere with her life.

This story contains 1354 words.

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Contributing Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at [email protected]


Posted by Brit
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 3, 2017 at 3:10 pm

In the UK, seniors get free bus passes.

There is very little mention in this article of seniors using regular buses or shuttles. It seems that the Avenidas and VTA services are problematic. It is interesting that the survey was only given to riders and not to potential riders. A true survey would want to know why the services were not being used by potential users and what the service would need to provide to enable more people to use it. If a survey is only given to those who are satisfied with what they are receiving it tells nothing of the many who are dissatisfied and have to use something else.

A few years ago I broke my ankle and was unable to drive myself for a period of weeks. There were no bus services that I could use to get me to my regular destinations and had to depend on friends and family to drive me. True there was no Uber or Lyft available then.

I am not surprised in the slightest that seniors are reluctant to give up their cars when the alternatives are so meagre.

Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 5, 2017 at 10:34 am

A correction about the prices of Uber and Lyft: both services now offer ride-sharing programs that are half the price of regular service, called UberPool and LyftLine respectively. As far as I know, there's no minimum rate for this and a ride is often less than $10 ($7 flat rate within SF). You share your ride with other customers, but because it's only offered in high-business areas (including Palo Alto), this has never added more than ten minutes to my ride, and I've had many UberPool rides where I'm the only passenger. It's not like VTA Access crossing the Bay to pick up one more customer.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Avenidas serves Menlo Park and parts of Redwood City better than South Palo Alto. Maybe the article author can post how long these services take from a request to reaching Avenidas.

Posted by Caregiver
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Smart phone apps required for seniors who have trouble with using simple cell phones makes Lyft and Uber unavailable to them. I've yet to see a simple enough smart phone app which can be used by techophobe seniors. And, no mass transit solutions exist yet for anyone with even minor dementia issues or who is seriously frail such as with osteoporosis. Awaiting truly handicap accessible driverless cars connected by video to a caregiver or qualified social worker at all times.

Posted by Uber and Lyft--Friend or foe?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2017 at 11:07 am

Rideshare is heavily subsidized by private investors right now. What will happen to cost per ride when that money goes away? Uber and Lyft are keeping prices low to lure new customers from other options like cabs and transit. This will cause transit providers to cut local buses as they are doing now. Once you are hooked, Uber and Lyft will increase prices. You'll be stuck. Clever ruse.

These are nascent for-profit businesses. Be careful that you don't abandon affordable transit in the short term. Once transit is lost, it is VERY hard to get back. The rideshare business model is still very new--and they are using investor money to fund price competition to steal market share. Prices will stay low until they own you. If you need transit, use it or you lose it. Don't be seduced by artificially low prices.

Posted by Nancy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 6, 2017 at 11:16 am

UberPool has been great for my dad who recently had to give up driving. He doesn't have a smartphone. I got him an internet-enabled iPad and let him use my Uber account. After a few training runs, he is able to call for his own UberPool. He uses the services half a dozen times per week at less than $6 per ride. Without Uber, he would be pushed to more expensive and less convenient options. I am grateful for Uber.

Posted by About the shuttle
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 6, 2017 at 11:16 am

The city shuttle is useful and good, but the goofy decoration, the pictures on the windows, makes it unappealing. More appropriate for kids than for adults. A child's view of what older people like.
To City: Make it more dignified and more people will use it.

Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2017 at 11:27 am

Make the shuttle come more often, especially mid-day and through residential neighborhoods, then seniors will use it more. Waiting for an hour at a outdoor bus stop during the winter is not pleasant or safe.

Posted by Sue Allen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2017 at 11:44 am

My Mom, age 90, uses Lyft, and the App is very simple. Push the pink balloon. Push the button that says "I need a ride." All is done. Ride shows up in the next 5-7 minutes. We had to get her a smart phone, but I paid $20 for the phone, and it adds $10/month to my prior cell phone bill (Metro PCS). The initial set-up is a bit more complicated, but family or friends can do that. And I put my credit card number in for the charges. I live too far away to give Mom rides to the grocery store or hair appointment, so I tell her this is my way of giving her rides. Her depression-era mentality didn't want to pay $6 for a ride -- never mind that her car payments, insurance and gas were about $300/month.

When we told her 18 months ago that she had to stop driving she said, "Just wait until your children do this to you!" I told her it would never happen -- I will have a self-driving car by then. :o)

Posted by EPA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm

When I heard about the Avineda's system I thought it would be perfect for my mom that has confusion using a smart phone. I thought a phone number that you can call and ask for a ride is just what she needs. And, with Lyft and Uber it wasn't so much about getting to where she wanted to go, but remembering how to call it up to get home. The Avinedas system isn't helpful for my mom at all. When I checked you had to plan the ride 72 hours in advance! Now, it says it's 36 hours -- but even still ... we can figure out a ride for her in that time. They said they are relying on volunteers, but charge for the service. Couldn't it be reworked where they coordinate Lyft rides? And same day just like all people want to plan an errand.

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