A report in the New York Times examines why seniors aren’t using Uber and Lyft. In theory, ride hailing could be a wonderful solution for seniors to get around — if only they weren’t intimidated by using them.
- A survey by AARP in 2018 that found only 29 percent of people over 50 have used a ride hailing service, compared to 51 percent in the 19-29 age bracket.
- Although seniors have no problem getting into the swing of things on Facebook, Uber and Lyft are a scary prospect because they are transactional.
- Frequent warnings about scams and identity theft perpetrated on the elderly have created fear that these apps can drain their bank accounts.
The good news is that the University of Southern California found in a study that if seniors were trained, they will use a ride hailing app or a call-in service to get a ride. Participants in the study received three free months of unlimited Lyft rides. With an average age of 72 and including some who had health problems or disabilities and limited transportation options, the majority of seniors reported improved quality of life.
Uber and Lyft are working on alternate ways to serve the aged community, but it’s not out of the goodness of their hearts. Seniors are a potentially lucrative market. To bypass app anxiety, companies have started to contract with third parties, such as health care systems and senior living facilities. Another way ride hailing companies are trying to get seniors on board is by equipping vans with wheelchair access and training drivers to help those with canes, walkers and wheelchairs.
But, the issue of cost remains: In the USC study, the monthly bill would have averaged out to $500. Due to this expense, 20 percent of seniors said they wouldn’t be using the service again.
WHY THIS MATTERS
The aging population of Baby Boomers — a generation that has always owned cars — are beginning to adapt to elderly life, which quite often means giving up driving. This could be a huge market for tech-based mobility providers, if they can make the services easy and affordable enough to use.