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While our lives may slow down a little as we age, we still have plenty of places to be in our golden years, from medical appointments to trips to the grocery store. Actually getting to these locations can be a little challenging for older people, however, especially if they cannot drive.
In these cases, finding reliable senior transportation is necessary. Fortunately, there are plenty of accessible, low-cost senior transportation programs across the country, including here in St. Louis, Missouri.
There are plenty of reasons why choosing a senior transportation service is the best option for older adults.
For starters, many seniors cannot drive safely. That may be due to:
But just because older people can’t drive doesn’t mean they still don’t have places to be. They still require transportation for:
Not all transportation services are the same; what works best for some folks won’t be the best choice for others.
Factors to consider when looking for senior transportation options include:
Sometimes Medicare may pay for transportation services. Most times, Medicare will only help pay for emergency ambulance services to the nearest facility that can give the patient the care they need. In order to have non-emergency ambulance services covered, a doctor’s note is necessary.
The Missouri Medicaid program is known as MO HealthNet. It can help cover costs associated with the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) program for eligible people already enrolled in MO HealthNet and MO HealthNet Managed Care. Many services work with this program.
The following are popular transportation options for seniors in the St. Louis area.
Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services offer perhaps the most convenient, on-demand transportation options for anyone, including seniors. They are available in most areas, including the Greater St. Louis Area.
The drawback to these services is that they require setting up an account, complete with payment information, before scheduling a ride. Lyft and Uber also require that rides are scheduled either online or through their apps. This setup and scheduling system might not make these services the best option for older folks who aren’t tech savvy.
Fees will vary depending on several factors, including availability of rides, the time and location of the pickup, and distance traveled. That said, seniors and people with disabilities may be able to have most or all of their costs covered for eligible rideshare services in their area.
Specifically, certain Missouri Medicare enrollees with Home Health State Plan with transportation benefits (see more in the next section) may have their transportation costs covered using rideshare services, including Lyft and Uber, for healthcare purposes.
The plan might cover rides to the following appointments:
People with eligible Medicare Advantage Plans can also have certain Lyft rides billed to their insurance rather than pay for the ride out of pocket.
Lyft also recently launched Lyft Pass for Healthcare, which lets people make rides to and from non-emergency medical appointments from the Lyft app itself, with the ride partly or mostly covered by the sponsoring organization. This service is for patients with certain plans in eligible programs like Medicare and Medicaid. People should contact their healthcare provider to see if they participate in this program.
Uber has a similar program, Uber Health. It allows healthcare associates to book rides to and from appointments from within the Uber Health dashboard. Uber works with sponsoring organizations to provide Vouchers to eligible riders.
Medicaid enrollees with a Home Health State Plan with transportation benefits can provide people with low-cost or sometimes even free non-emergency transportation to people who call at least 72 hours in advance for most kinds of appointments.
Home Health State Plan enrollees can call 1-855-694-HOME (4663) to arrange a ride.
Express Medical Transporters serve anyone who needs 24/7 medical transport services within their service areas.
According to their website, their services include:
Fees vary, but EMT serves people with Medicaid.
People can contact EMT online or by phone at 1-314-881-1700 to receive more information or schedule a ride.
CORPS offers certain transportation services to seniors for free. The rides must be scheduled days in advance and be to medical appointments or other high-priority locations.
Interested individuals can contact 314-615-4516 to get started.
OATS Transit offers “shared-ride, demand-response, door-to-door” transportation services for Missourians in nearly 90 counties. What sets OATS Transit apart from other services is that they offer rural transportation and transportation to and from cities in select areas.
Fare rates vary, with some services operating on fees and others on donations.
Interested individuals can see bus schedules here or call (888) 875-6287.
Part of the Independent Transportation Network (ITN), which offers transportation services all over the country, ITNGateway offers services in St. Charles County and St. Louis County. It provides transportation in private vehicles for people with disabilities and seniors.
Their services include:
Interested individuals can receive more information by contacting ITNGateway online or by calling (314) 724-2117 for the St. Louis office or (636) 329-0888 for the St. Charles office.
St. Louis County & Yellow Cab offer services within the Greater St. Louis Area and even certain parts of Illinois.
Their services for seniors include:
Interested individuals can contact 314-991-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Metro Transit is the public transportation system in St. Louis. The system is comprised of the following services:
Metro Transit offers discounted and free rides to eligible individuals. Their discount programs include:
SLAAA, the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging, helps seniors and people with disabilities in the St. Louis area find transportation services and discounts for said services. After confirming eligibility requirements, SLAAA will arrange for a senior center bus to pick up the individual at their home at a requested time. It also drops people back off once they are finished with their business at their chosen destination.
Interested individuals need to call (314) 612-5918 to arrange a ride or ask about discounted bus fares. The SLAAA site states that while donations are preferred, they will not refuse service to eligible individuals due to inability to pay.
Access to transportation can make a world of difference to seniors who are not able to drive. Whether it’s to go grocery shopping, attend a doctor’s appointment, or simply visit loved ones, older people deserve access to reliable transportation. Fortunately, there is a robust network of senior transportation services in St. Louis and the surrounding area that can provide reliable and affordable transport for seniors.