Older adults in Florida who no longer can drive themselves have a new option when it comes to finding ways to get around.
The University of Florida and the Florida Department of Transportation Safe Mobility For Life have created FindaRideFlorida.org, a website where people can search for transportation options in all 67 of Florida’s counties.
On the site, users indicate their starting location, their destination and the purpose of their trip. Users also have the ability to specify if they are 60 years of age or older, if they need assistance to and from the vehicle and if they need wheelchair accommodations.
Search results give transportation providers in the user’s area, how much the trip might cost, reservation requirements, service hours and contact information. Providers include traditional taxi companies, public transportation, nonprofits and ride-hailing services, like Uber and Lyft.
The site is maintained by UF’s Department of Occupational Therapy and is funded by FDOT’s Elderly Drivers Statewide Safety Resource Centers. Department Chair Sherrilene Classen oversees the project on UF’s end.
“FindaRideFlorida.org is a website that houses more than 800 transportation options,” Classen said. “Essentially what the database does is having a variety - we like to call it a menu - of transportation options for older adults, throughout the state of Florida, that would meet their individual needs as it pertains to transportation.”
While the site also offers services for people with poor eyesight, it’s open to any user. Classen stressed that the goal of the project is to help older adults live independent lives and continue to interact with others.
“In order for older adults to live healthy and productive lives, they need to be engaged in their communities, and they need to continue to participate in society,” Classen said. “We will all outlive our driving lifespan; we need to think about alternative transportation options. So, we would think that this is a website that can help older adults have adaptable, accessible, acceptable, available and affordable transportation options, basically with the click of a button.”
In 2004, UF and FDOT first introduced an online transportation database. Find a Ride Florida is the latest version, upgraded with a geographic information system.
“It’s really an adaptation of years of work that’s much more refined, and that’s much more focused, and that’s much more targeted toward vulnerable populations in Florida, specifically older adults,” Classen said.