By Ryan McManus
Taking the keys away from a senior is hard – but taking away the keys from a senior community should be easier. Whether a senior chooses to live in a community or age in place, the ability to travel at their leisure is key to happiness. Research shows that seniors who have the freedom of reliable transportation live longer than those who do not. Every aspect of transportation is changing, and seniors are positioned to be the big winners as the market for vehicles goes from owned to shared.
The path to an autonomous future is unclear and understandably confusing. While full autonomy is a bit futuristic, there is a current answer to your community’s transportation issues: microtransit. Microtransit is a new category of transportation where private companies operate dynamic transit services for groups of riders in a community with an emphasis on sharing – think middle ground between ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft and bus systems. For every community that has been struggling with transportation, microtransit could be your solution to optimizing your investment in transportation. Early adopters to microtransit are discovering reduced costs, increased access, and a solution to one of the biggest challenges that seniors face as they age in a new, connected world: trust.
Your internal transportation program was likely started out of necessity. For senior communities of all sizes, the answer to transportation has been purchasing a community van. Vans are easy to finance, provide mobile advertising, and most other communities utilize them. The total cost of vehicle ownership divided by the number of rides is often shocking – outsourcing can result in a cost-per-ride reduction of 25 to 75 percent, depending on the flexibility needed for riders.
If your community owns vehicles, those vehicles are typically used only five to 10 percent of the time. The cost of maintenance climbs as vehicles sit idle, and their condition can be far worse than the odometer implies. To get a true picture of your total cost of ownership, consider the cost of vehicles, insurance, maintenance, parking, graphics, cleaning, and drivers. Additionally, issues finding reliable drivers causes many communities to use higher-paid employees to drive when they are short-staffed. Outsourcing will take your transportation budget further and will simplify community finances, providing a clear portrayal of the cost-per-ride.
Transportation is about access. “Frequency of leaving” should be a leading metric for measuring the current state of your transportation program. A 2017 report from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Association explains that seniors live better and longer when they get out. When prospective residents are touring your facility, instead of showing your vans as evidence of transportation, it is more powerful to show them data – proving your community is a place that gives seniors increased access to their favorite destinations. Without utilizing a microtransit service to provide this data, that’s a difficult promise to make.
The cost of a microtransit service does not have to weigh entirely on your facility’s budget. Sharing the cost of rides with seniors is a great way to give them the amount of access they want, without having to bear the full cost. Destinations, especially retail, benefit greatly from the economic buying power of seniors. Community businesses have expressed interest in assisting with ride costs to bring more seniors to their location.
In most communities, there are typically several local transportation companies and ride-sharing services. Mostly, these options are untrusted; unknown drivers, unknown vehicles, unknown reliability – all deal breakers for any organization that considers transportation outsourcing. Trust is earned through consistent service, personalized attention, and data-backed results. By using data to build trust, senior communities can have confidence in the microtransit partner they choose, and they can also hold that partner accountable.
The solution to saving, increasing transportation access for your community members, and building trust is sharing. Bringing in an outside microtransit partner can allow you to increase the availability of transportation in your senior residence and become a destination for seniors that live alone or with family.
About Ryan McManus:
Ryan McManus is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SHARE. Ryan leads the vision and strategy at SHARE, working towards building a company that is the most trusted and efficient transportation option for jobs, education, and healthcare. Over the last ten years, he has launched over 45 new products and companies that have been at the leading edge of technology, including enterprise cloud, native mobile apps, internet of things, and now, connected vehicles. Focused on emerging industries and disruptive technologies, Ryan is passionate about pursuing innovation that changes the way we live and creates a world that is ready for the next generation. Ryan is a graduate of Ohio Dominican University with an MBA from The Ohio State University.