A relatively new transportation innovation, San Francisco-based Uber first drove into the senior care space in October when it launched its uberASSIST offering. This brought the company’s signature service — which allows people to call for rides and pay automatically via smartphone — to seniors.
Now, the $18 billion company is expanding those offerings by launching a new pilot program for community-based senior outreach, which will involve senior living communities in select areas, Meghan Joyce, regional general manager for Uber East Coast, announced Monday at the White House Conference on Aging.
“We’re starting a new pilot in a number of cities to partner with local governments and organizations to drive better … mobility and access to older people in those communities,” she said.
Across the country, Uber will offer free technology tutorials and free rides at select retirement communities and senior centers. The company hopes to further the conversation about the way technology can improve older adults’ day-to-day lives, according to a blog post announcing the new pilot.
“Twenty-six million Americans depend on someone else as a way to get around, and I think technology helps them to solve that problem effectively,” Joyce said. With Uber, “older riders are now able to regain their independence.”
To further seniors’ needs, Uber is establishing partnerships with local senior advocates, organizations and municipalities around the country. For example, Uber is working with the city of Gainesville, Fla., to offer on-demand transportation for residents of two senior centers as part of a six-month program.
When a resident at a participating senior center needs a ride, he or she can request one at an even more affordable rate because of support from the city, Uber said in a blog post. Free technology tutorials will be available, too, so residents of the participating communities can feel comfortable and at ease using the service.
Uber is also piloting a similar senior ride program in partnership with the town of Miami Lakes, Fla.
In addition to these two programs currently underway, several other Uber cities — including Columbus, Austin, Tucson, Phoenix and Ventura County, Calif. — are running pilot programs with local senior organizations, providing educational product tutorials and free or discounted rides.
“This is a great opportunity for us to learn about the needs of our users,” Joyce said. “This is not just a separate track [of technology for older Americans], but an opportunity for us to learn what [needs] anyone, and particularly older riders, have.”
Founded five years ago, Uber has made its way through cities across the globe, and now has a presence in 57 countries. But it wasn’t until last year that the ever-growing transportation giant began offering services targeted at its senior clientele.
That’s when Uber launched uberASSIST, designed for additional assistance for members of the senior and disabled communities. Drivers of uberASSIST vehicles are specifically trained to assist riders into the vehicles and can accommodate folding wheelchairs, walkers, scooters or other mobility equipment devices.
“When we first launched, we were most popular among younger people,” Joyce said. “We’ve slowly but surely been expanding our product offering. … Uber is an incredible way for people who need a little more help with transportation to get a ride safely and reliably. It’s an amazing way to maintain your independence even if you no longer want to drive.”
Written by Emily Study