MANATEE -- Going shopping, seeing a doctor or visiting friends are among activities many people might take for granted.
Not seniors who no longer drive.
“Knowing they can go out and continue life, that’s what seniors look forward to,” said Ellen Campbell, president and chief executive officer of Renaissance on 9th, the senior enrichment center on 14th Street West.
Renaissance offers a transportation program, Senior Wheels.
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Some doctors offices also offer transportation.
So do many assisted living facilities.
“There’s still a strong need,” Campbell said. “Public transportation is limited. Having another service in town is a benefit.”
Hoping to answer that need is RidePlus, a seniors transportation service founded last year in Phoenix and started this summer in Sarasota and Bradenton.
Its plan is to offer an alternative to public transportation and taxis or having to depend on rides from family and friends.
“The concept for RidePlus began ... when we realized that a service we would trust for our parents didn’t currently exist,” said Edward Hoffman, the managing director.
RidePlus offers personalized, door-to-door service with drivers trained in CPR, first-aid and senior care.
It serves 300 regular riders in Phoenix and is adding more each week. It is serving several dozen riders locally since mid-June.
“We’ve discovered an intense demand from seniors who want a dignified private travel experience, a better way to get to the grocery store, to the hair salon, to family and church events and to all of the other places and people that make life meaningful and enjoyable,” Hoffman said.
A la carte services are available for:
n $3 pickup fee.
n $9 fee for each 15-minute period of service.
n Monthly discount plans are available for under $40 weekly.
Vernon DeSear, Manatee Memorial Hospital vice president, is familiar with senior transportation problems.
What’s he think of RidePlus?
“As long as it’s affordable and accessible I would see it as a positive,” DeSear said. “You hear from people who would love to have such a service, but can’t afford it.”
Reba Rogers, CEO and owner of CPA Secure Aging, agreed.
“Affordability is the challenge. So many seniors are afraid they’re going to run out of money,” she said. “That’s important.”
Yet so is being able to get to the bank or the grocery story without depending on family or friends.
“When it’s time to give up the keys, seniors don’t want to because they’re afraid they’ll lose their independence,” Rogers said. “(RidePlus) would be another way for seniors to get where they need to go without driving.”