In 2009, Uber launched as a small privately-owned company in San Francisco. Unbeknownst to many at the time, this marked the creation of a revolutionary industry: rideshare services, now a global market valued at $85 billion dollars.
A closer examination of the origins of the rideshare services industry reveals that many demographic groups were not taken into account when the industry was developed. Most traditional rideshare apps were founded by young, tech-driven males, who did not consider the needs and desires of older demographics in society. Even with the announcement earlier this year that Lyft was adding an option for seniors to book with a phone call rather than through the app, the market opportunity is ripe for other operators to offer personalized services that cater to the specific needs of senior users.
According to a AAA report, fatal crashes increase per mile traveled for drivers 75 years and older, with a more dramatic increase after the age of 80. At age 65, car insurance rates increase corresponding to the increase in mishaps and accidents in this age group. According to the Administration for Community Living, by 2050 22% of the American population will be over the age of 65. Consequently, almost a quarter of the American population will be presented with new challenges when attempting to operate a motor vehicle.
While senior citizens are often capable of completing everyday tasks, they often require assistance getting to and from their desired locations: Loss of agility, declining eyesight and poor night vision, are among the common challenges seniors face when evaluating transportation options.
This is not to say older people are weaker or incapable of taking care of themselves; nevertheless, they do deserve an accessible way to get from one place to the next via a mode of transportation that accommodates their needs. For those who are unable to or uneasy about driving, the burden often falls on the shoulders of family and friends. Even more challenging, many are forced to take public transportation, which can be geographically challenging to access and add hours on to travel time.
In an effort to provide more comfortable options, there are few companies that are dedicated to safe, reliant and direct transportation of senior citizens. RubiRides, a DC-based rideshare service is committed to transporting senior citizens. This company offers a variety of services and features which help seniors circumnavigate many of the common issues they face when trying to use traditional rideshare services. GoGo Grandparent also works to connect older adults with Uber and Lyft services by acting as middleman to navigate the app-based logistics.
Transportation safety for the elderly is frequently overlooked by the rest of society. You often hear instances of elderly citizens being harassed, exploited, or taken advantage of on public transportation. In 2017, a Florida Uber driver was accused of robbing his elderly passenger. RubiRides addresses this issue by requiring their drivers to complete a comprehensive background check and training process that equips them to accommodate the limitations and needs of elderly passengers.
One of the most common challenges facing older adults who may want to use mainstream ride-share services is their lack of familiarity with smartphones and rideshare apps. While younger generations are raised with a smartphone almost glued to their hand, older generations grew up during an era of cab-hailing and hitchhiking. Services like RubiRides allows family members to call a car for their older family member or friend and track the ride in real-time.
With a growing emphasis on accessibility and an increasing senior population the rideshare market has a responsibility to place a bigger emphasis on offering services that cater to the needs of older adults. Though the field is limited for now, the fact is the “silver economy” market continues to grow and feel comfortable adopting limited technologies and new means of transportation, which as services expands will improve the mobility, and therefore wellness of many seniors.
Noreen Butler, Founder | CEO, RubiRides
Noreen is a seasoned entrepreneur, a former Senior Advisor for a successful international real estate firm and mother of two children. As a mother with children involved in extracurricular activities, she was faced with the challenges of balancing schedules, events, after-school activities, and her career. Noreen resides in Washington, D.C. with her children and enjoys giving back to her community.
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