Ninety seniors and people with disabilities learned about the options available to them for getting around the city on Feb. 11 at the Minnie and Lovie Ward Recreation Center.
The Community Living Campaign organized the transportation fair to inform and assist people who live in communities that have traditionally been poorly served by public transport and private cab companies, such as Ingleside and Excelsior, and other neighborhoods outside San Francisco’s downtown and tourist areas.
In her opening remarks, CLC Executive Director of Marie Jobling, said, “We know that isolation significantly contributes to illness and depression among the elderly. Transportation is a way to break the barriers of isolation that too often accompany aging and living with disability. To create an aging friendly neighborhood, people have to be able to get around.”
After brief presentations from transportation providers, the audience was invited to visit their tables for further information.
A representative from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency discussed Free Muni for Seniors and People with Disabilities and offered help in completing the form to apply for the program.
While BART does not offer free rides, a representative said that the regional transportation agency offers a 62.5 percent fare reduction for seniors and people with disabilities and that riders can use their Clipper card on BART.
San Francisco Paratransit
San Francisco Paratransit offers seniors and people with disabilities who are unable to independently use public transportation pre-scheduled door-to-door shared-ride vans; group vans to bring seniors to senior centers and other qualified sites; and their newest service, “shop-a-round” vans to take groups grocery shopping. The first two services require pre-qualification from San Francisco Paratransit; the “shop-a-round” van does not.
San Francisco Paratransit also pre-qualifies residents for cab vouchers. Luxor, Yellow Cab and Flywheel all accept vouchers from SF Paratransit. Representatives from the three cab companies emphasized the ease with which cell phone users can request and pay for service.
For more information on paratransit services and pre-qualification, call (415) 351-3942 or visit www.sfparatransit.com.
Cell Phone Applications
Cell phone apps make it easier to reserve transportation and to pay for trips. Luxor, Yellow Cab and Flywheel are asking customers to use their cell phones to reserve and pay for services. Even San Francisco Paratransit is adding cell phone access and payment system for its services.
Private Taxi Companies
The private companies—Uber, Lyft, and Lift Hero—do not accept vouchers, making their services are more expensive. But, as their representatives said, wait times are shorter and more predictable. Reservations for Uber and Lyft can only be made from cell phones. In addition to receiving help in installing the cell phone apps, audience members who were new to Uber received $20 ride coupons while those new to Lyft received $50 coupons.
Lift Hero focuses solely on the transportation needs of seniors and people living with disabilities, billing itself as a concierge company providing “rides and accompaniment.” Drivers are insured to help passengers get up and down stairs, enter and exit the cab, carry groceries and so on. Whenever possible, the company tries to build a relationship between the senior and driver by assigning the same driver for every trip. If the customer is interested, Lift Hero will also contact family members to report changes in the senior’s condition. Because it provides more comprehensive services, it is more expensive than the other cab companies. Lift Hero charges customers $25 per hour plus $1 per mile. While Lift Hero has a cell phone app, you can also make reservations on with a landline phone. For more information, call (888) 606-4654.
While requesting a ride using an app works well for customers with cell phones, not everyone owns a cell phone. For those who own cell phones but did not bring them to the fair, or who need help in installing and using apps, CLC offers classes on basic computer skills at the I.T. Bookman Community Center. For more information about these classes, contact Deb Glen at (415) 846-7717.