Four Million Californians 55 and Older Have Experienced Ride-share Hailing

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MTI survey finds the majority of older adults are comfortable riding with an unknown driver
October 20, 2020
San José, CA

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has released a new research report that investigates the potential for ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber to help meet the travel needs of older Californians: Will Ride-Hailing Enhance Mobility for Older Adults? A California Survey.

“We found that many older adults are currently ride hailing,” says Dr. Asha Weinstein Agrawal, the study’s Principal Investigator. “Close to half of the survey respondents, who were all 55 or older, had experienced ride-hailing in some way, and almost a third had booked a ride themselves. Generalizing these survey findings to all Californians 55 and older, we can say that about 4 million have used ride-hailing and 2.6 million have booked a ride themselves either online or by phone”

Figure. Different ways the survey respondents had experienced ride-hailing.


To identify barriers that may prevent older adults from ride-hailing, respondents were asked about their comfort with different features of existing ride-hailing services. “We learned that the majority were comfortable with many features of current ride-hailing services,” explained Dr. Manish Shirgaokar, one of the study co-authors. “For example, 63% of respondents were somewhat or very comfortable riding with a driver they did not know.”

The survey also tested whether older adults might value new service features that could help with booking and paying for trips. “We learned that 70% of respondents would value having a company helpline to call if that option were made available,” noted study co-author Dr. Martin Wachs. In addition, “60% of respondents valued having a driver trained to help older passengers.

Respondents were also interested in having new payment options. “Sixty-one percent valued the option to pay for trips with a special ride-hailing card unlinked to a bank account or credit card,” noted co-author Dr. Aditi Misra.

A diverse group of older online Californians ride-hail. Although ride-hailing was most common among older adults who had higher-incomes, were more educated, were comfortable with online financial technology, and rode public transit, many ride-hailing respondents did not share those characteristics. “For example,” noted co-author Dr. Bonnie Dobbs, “20% of respondents living in small towns had booked a ride themselves, compared to 36% of respondents living in urban communities.”

These results are based on an online survey that was completed by 2,917 California adults aged 55 and older. The respondents are representative of the California population in terms of basic socio-demographic characteristics, including age, gender, race, and annual household income.

MTI will feature a webinar discussing this research on Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 10a.m. (PT). Attendees can register at


At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nations’ transportation system. Through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer, we help create a connected world. MTI was founded in 1991 and is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

Dr. Asha Weinstein Agrawal is a Professor at San Jose State University, Dr. Manish Shirgaokar is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Denver, Dr. Aditi Misra is an Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Michigan, Dr. Martin Wachs is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at UCLA, and Dr. Bonnie Dobbs is a Professor at the University of Alberta, Canada.


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