Transportation  assistance refers to mobility-support services that are available to individuals with disabilities and the elderly, who are unable to drive from one place to the next or use public transit due to physical or mental limitations. The organizations that provide these services include human service groups and government-operated transportation agencies.

1. Qualifying Needs:
Transportation assistance includes door-to-door service by personal drivers, bus transit and cab rides using vouchers. These services help passengers conduct day-to-day activities that require local travel—going to and from work or doctor’s appointments, attending school, running errands, shopping and other tasks that are essential to one’s livelihood. Through the organizations mentioned above, passengers can obtain public-transportation tokens, taxi vouchers and bus and train schedules.

2. Community Transportation Assistance Program:
While there is no federal mandate in place to support or enforce transportation-assistance programs, the Community Transportation Assistance Program acts as a national resource for individuals and agencies who provide safe and affordable transportation to the elderly and disabled. CTAP formed under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and provides training and educational materials to its members. For those seeking some form of transportation assistance, CTAP offers a state-by-state listing of agencies and associations who offer transportation assistance.

3. Local Transportation Agencies:
One of the best places to start looking for mobility support is through your local office on aging or a public-transportation agency. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in Orange County, California, for instance, has the “Senior Mobility Program” (SMP)—a specialized bus service for seniors. OCTA funds 80 percent of the program and supplies the vehicles and vehicle-maintenance services. The Orange County’s Office on Aging and the cities that participate in the program also provide financial support. The cost to the customer can be as low as 50 cents per in-city ride or free, depending on the city in which they live. Some cities list price structures that include out-of-city rides such as a ride to the airport, which can be $30 for a one-way trip.

4. Other Alternatives:
In some cities, the Office on Aging might offer a door-to-door taxi service in which qualifying seniors can obtain vouchers for a reduced cost. In these cases, the seniors will need to show proof of their age. The cab company will determine the price-per-voucher based on a sliding scale. This is the case for Washington, D.C., where the Office on Aging offers the “Dial-N-Ride” program. Throughout the country, there are nonprofit organizations, such as Paratransit, Inc. in Sacramento, California, whose missions are to provide transportation services to individuals with disabilities or senior citizens.

5. Emergency Transportation Assistance:
Some county and state organizations offer transportation assistance in the event of a medical emergency or a natural disaster. In Palm Beach County, Florida, the “Disabled Transportation Assistance Program,” will transport disabled residents to Red Cross hurricane shelters if they live in evacuation zones or mobile homes and have no other means of transportation. While the county offers this service when there is an emergency, qualifying residents must be registered beforehand, which they can do online through the county’s website.

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