Toyota and AARP are working together to offer D-FW residents free rides for COVID-19 vaccine appointments as part of the new AARP Ride @ 50+ program. The transportation program is a one-stop shop to find and reserve local transportation options.
Free rides for COVID-19 vaccines
Those looking to take a free ride to a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for themselves or a loved one can do so by calling 1-888-485-4223 and mentioning the phrase “vaccinate Dallas.” Free journeys must be booked at least 24 hours in advance and are offered on a first come, first served basis. Transport providers are available for passengers who need additional assistance, including accessibility for people with disabilities.
The free rides for vaccines are made possible by a grant from Toyota, who has worked with AARP for a decade on safer driving initiatives for older Americans. With the AARP Ride @ 50 + program, the organizations want to address people with transport problems. The lack of safe and adequate means of transport is a major obstacle to meeting daily necessities such as food and medical care. According to a study by the Ruderman Family Foundation and Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), an estimated 3.6 million Americans miss medical appointments each year due to lack of transportation.
This is how the Ride @ 50+ program works
The AARP Ride @ 50 + program functions as a “transport aggregator” where multiple local transport options can be checked, booked and paid for – all in one place. Individuals or those they care for can choose the transportation option that best suits their needs and book the ride through a mobile application, online booking platform or call center. In other words, the purpose of the program is to provide access to transportation to help individuals get to where they need to go easily and safely – using a program set up and supported by a trusted organization like AARP .
The transport options include public and private providers such as public transport, taxi companies, ridesharing companies or volunteer drivers with their own vehicles. Currently, users can only book trips for essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies or doctor’s appointments. Before booking a ride, passengers and transportation providers must agree to follow all applicable current and future COVID-19 safety recommendations, including CDC and government guidelines. The cost of each trip depends on the length and the transport option chosen and will be clearly stated at the time of booking prior to payment. Payment is made with any major credit card.
There is no application process or eligibility requirements, and AARP membership is not required. Free training on how to use the program is also available through a live virtual seminar or an on-demand online webinar.
“The AARP Ride @ 50+ program provides a simple, affordable, and efficient solution to finding transportation for people of all ages,” said Sean Suggs, group vice president, Toyota Social Innovation. “This program makes it easier to access critical services and helps people get where they want to go, and that’s what Mobility for All is all about.”
The AARP Ride @ 50+ program is a one-stop shop to find and reserve local transportation for key services in the Dallas area.(Toyota)
Local nonprofits are key
D-FW non-profit organizations are encouraged to refer their customers who need transportation assistance to the program. In fact, the success of the program depends on nonprofits in the area introducing and encouraging their customers to use the AARP Ride @ 50+ program. Several in North Texas have already expressed their intention to do just that. They include the following:
- Downtown Dallas, Inc. Among its many activities aimed at promoting a vibrant and sustainable downtown environment, the group supports the homeless and will use the Ride @ 50+ program to provide customers with transportation to long-term residential and recreational programs to supply. According to Chief Marketing Officer Shalissa Perry, the Ride @ 50+ program will fill a significant void in ending homelessness in Dallas. “As we can make care easier for more people, the entire community will benefit,” she says.
- Brother Bill’s helping hand. Brother Bill’s Helping Hand programs focus on nutrition, health care and education for the people of Oak Cliff and West Dallas. As part of the Ride @ 50+ program, the organization is developing a way to deliver food and transport to medical appointments to seniors who are at home. Courtney Cuthbert, Director of Volunteers and Department of Food, said, “We believe this program will be a great boon to our neighbors as traffic is one of the social determinants of health that prevents them from having access to things like healthy food and health to have quality medical care. We hope that as the program expands, the program will continue to provide access for the families we care for and remove the financial burden they may face in finding transportation to access these essential livelihoods. “
- Strengthen the masses. In addition to its educational and life skills training programs, Empowering the Masses operates two pantries. According to founder Tammy Johnson, the company intends to use the Ride @ 50+ program to bring its customers to the pantries, as well as to doctor and dentist appointments and to work. It has also agreed with one of the participating taxi companies to avoid waiting times while people pick up food or receive medical or dental treatment.
- Prism Health North Texas. This community-based safety net for HIV management and prevention in North Texas serves those who often have difficulty accessing medical care, including a one-way trip to the doctor. Executive Vice President Cathy Bryan said, “Because we are from a multi-county area in North Texas, we often have patients who live out of reach of public transportation. We are excited about the potential of a centralized booking service like the Ride @ 50+ program that allows our employees to easily access a variety of transportation options in one place, thus reducing the valuable time staff members spend looking for transportation that meet the needs of the patient. “
From Columbia, South Carolina, to Dallas
AARP first launched the Ride @ 50+ program as a pilot in Columbia, South Carolina because of its established infrastructure suitable for the program. The capital of South Carolina is also part of the AARP network of age-appropriate states and communities.
After the initial success of the program, Dallas was selected as an additional location to advance the learning objectives of the AARP pilot and where Toyota could share industry knowledge to support the implementation of the program on-site. Another factor in Dallas’s decision was the flexibility of the city’s public transportation authority.
The AARP Ride @ 50+ program aims to meet a need in the community, particularly for underserved populations living in the South Dallas neighborhoods including Pleasant Grove, Oak Cliff, and West Dallas.
Change the transport scene
Summing up the expected benefits of the program, Kyle Rakow, Vice President and National Director of AARP Driver Safety, said: “Technology is changing the way we get around, but many older people are unfamiliar with some of the newer technologies such as: who have the potential to connect them in the community. By empowering people and introducing this innovative transportation platform, we hope to help Dallas residents avoid important things, be it medical appointments or other important travel. ”
To learn more about the AARP Ride @ 50+ program, go to aarp.org/ridedallas.