Addressing Barriers to Ridesharing Among Older Adults

Centralina assists local governments in coordinating sound regional development and provides a forum to address issues best handled through regional cooperation, planning and action. In 2015, the CONNECT Our Future regional growth plan identified transportation choice as a key priority for the region. By highlighting the need for increased transportation options, CONNECT our Future served as the catalyst to a more focused regional transit plan. 

CONNECT Beyond, our region’s first mobility plan, was adopted in 2021 and contains five objectives “mobility moves.” Some of these mobility moves include creating mobility-friendly places, expanding mobility choices and strengthening rural to urban connections. In 2024, transportation remains a top need for older adults and people with disabilities across the region. In response, the Centralina planning and aging departments partnered together on mobility management efforts (funded through a 5310 grant from the Charlotte Area Transit System) to address transportation needs for older adults and people with disabilities. This effort included the development of a rideshare study and rideshare resources for older adults and people with disabilities.

What is Ridesharing?

Ridesharing is an on-demand service (like Lyft and Uber) that users can utilize as transportation to and from destinations. This service is commonly used to transport riders to destinations such as grocery stores, retail locations, theaters, commuting to work, doctor’s appointments and more. Ridesharing can be a helpful option to address transportation needs for some older adults.

To develop tools and resources to support older adults with ridesharing, Centralina conducted the following steps:

Background Research > Survey Distribution > Data Analyzation > Resource Material Development > Resource Material Distribution

Background research was conducted using various academic literatures papers, white papers and other resources to identify some of the main barriers to older adults’ usage of ridesharing services. This research informed the development of a survey to identify barriers to rideshare utilization for older adults. 

Public Survey

In November 2022, Centralina initiated a public survey that aimed to examine familiarity of and barriers to ridesharing among adults age 60+ within the Charlotte region. This survey was created by Centralina staff and distributed by Centralina Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to the aging service network. The 2023 survey received a total of 91 responses that included the following highlights:  

  • Most survey respondents were 70 or older.
  • Approximately 16% of respondents indicated that disabilities interfere with their ability to travel outside their homes.
  • Nearly 25% of respondents identified they were very familiar with ridesharing and approximately 75% were either somewhat familiar with or not familiar with ridesharing services.
  • 41% of respondents indicated they are not comfortable paying for ridesharing through a mobile device.
  • Nearly 36% of respondents indicated they do not know how to download a ridesharing application and create an account.
Regional Transportation Guide for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

Based on these survey findings, Centralina updated the existing Regional Transportation Guide for Older Adults and People with Disabilities to include rideshare resources. This additional resource aims to increase awareness of rideshare programs, address common questions and concerns, and provide additional resources. The rideshare resource has a FAQ section to answer common questions about rideshare services, including safety, service animals, sanitation, booking a ride and devices required for booking a ride.

The resources are designed for older adults and caregivers. They can also serve as a resource for aging service providers, local governments, transportation providers, caregivers, health care facilities, etc. to assist with information to the community. Centralina AAA Assistant Aging Programs Director, Katie Kutcher, explains that “Transportation is essential to support connection in our communities. Centralina is excited to bring this important resource to our community to increase awareness of transportation options and provide transportation choices in the region.”   

Please help share this resource throughout your community, especially among older adults, people with disabilities, caregivers and service providers.