Giving Seniors a ‘Lyft’

September 4, 2018, Department, by Suzanne Nathan

2018 September Park Bench 410

According to the Heathy Aging in Parks initiative, 9 in 10 local park and recreation agencies offer services for older adults. California’s Walnut Creek Recreation is one such agency, providing numerous health, wellness and personal enrichment classes and various drop-in activities for adults 50+. However, sometimes getting to these events can be a big challenge for participants.

A two-year grant from the Transportation Partnership and Cooperation for Contra Costa County (TRANSPAC) has allowed Walnut Creek Recreation to expand capacity in its transportation program, helping seniors maintain their independence and safety, while improving traffic/parking congestion. By offering rides through the Lyft ride-sharing service, the city is giving members of the Walnut Creek Recreation Center’s Senior Club the freedom to get where they need to be within the city’s borders.

“The transportation program helps us promote health and wellness opportunities for our participants who might encounter obstacles in attending a class or a medical appointment,” says Adriane Lee Bird, recreation and social services manager for the city of Walnut Creek. “With cities facing the challenge of providing increasing support for larger senior populations who are living longer, more active lives, this is an invaluable service for our aging population to combat isolation, which, according to the National Institute of Health, leads to higher mortality rates.”

The program is designed to complement the Senior Mini Bus Program, which uses volunteer drivers and dispatchers to get seniors where they need to go between 8:45 a.m. and 3:40 p.m., Monday through Friday, and all day Saturday and Sunday.

Now, Senior Club members (membership fee is $15 per year) who are 60+ years of age and have completed an in-person assessment, can reserve a Lyft ride either by calling a reservation line or using the Lyft app if they have a smartphone. The rides are free of charge.

“The program began July 10, and one month later, we have given more than 200 rides. This is our way to increase capacity for needed senior transportation without adding to the budget,” says Bird. 

Suzanne Nathan is NRPA’s Media Specialist.