Will Ride-Hailing Enhance Mobility for Older Adults? A California Survey

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Will Ride-Hailing Enhance Mobility for Older Adults? A California Survey


Ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber offer a potential mobility option for the growing numbers of aging Californians who risk social and economic isolation if they cannot drive for health or financial reasons. They could also serve older adults who currently have mobility options but would prefer a ride-hailing alternative for at least some trips.

This study addressed whether and how older Californians use ride-hailing, as well as the potential of this travel mode to meet the needs of older adults now and in the coming decade. An online survey was completed by 2,917 California adults aged 55 and older. This age range was chosen to include both current seniors (age 65 and older) and individuals who will soon be entering that age group (age 55 to 64).

The survey explored whether older Californians who have access to the internet used ride-hailing, how comfortable they were with ride-hailing service features that might present barriers to usage, whether they would value potential new ride-hailing service features designed to improve safety, accessibility, and payment options, and what reasons (if any) they saw to use ride-hailing. We also collected data on various factors hypothesized to influence ride-hailing use and behaviors, such as use of the internet and online banking.

Key survey findings indicated that 44% of respondents 65 years old and older had experienced ride-hailing and 27% had booked a ride themselves via phone or using the app. Also, the potential new ride-hailing service features that appealed to large numbers of today’s and tomorrow’s seniors include having a driver trained to help older passengers and the option to pay with a ride-hailing card that is not linked to a bank account or credit card.

Results also indicated that there were fewer large variations by personal characteristics than we anticipated would influence ride- hailing behavior and attitudes, such as gender, age, and regular use of technology. However, there were some clear differences by population subgroups, most noticeably by income, education, community type (e.g., urban vs. rural), and use of public transit.


Dr. Agrawal is the Director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center, Education Director at MTI, and Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, all at San José State University. Her research and teaching interests in transportation policy and planning include transportation finance, bicycle and pedestrian planning, and travel survey methods. She also works in the area of transportation history. She has a PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.Sc. in Urban and Regional Planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.A. from Harvard University in Folklore and Mythology.

Dr. Shirgaokar is an assistant professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado Denver. His research focuses on travel behavior, transportation consumption, and social equity in infrastructure policy. He has published research papers based on cases in the U.S., Canada, and India. He has a B. Arch degree (Honors) from the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, India, and a dual-graduate Masters (M.C.P. / M. Arch) from the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. More information at https:// www.shirgaokar.com and on Twitter @CityProfessor.

Dr. Misra is an Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute with expertise in stated and revealed choice experiments and data- driven travel behavior modeling and simulation. She has been a Data Science for Social Good, Atlanta program fellow and a recipient of the AirSage Pass Scholarship for data- driven transportation research. Dr. Misra is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s advisory panel on the Seamless Integrated Mobility System (SIMSystem) project. She holds a PhD in Civil Engineering (Transportation Systems Engineering) from Georgia Institute of Technology with a minor in Computational Econometrics, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Connecticut, and a B.C.E degree from Jadavpur University (India).

Dr. Wachs is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Civil & Environmental Engineering and of City & Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where he directed the Institute of Transportation Studies and the University of California Transportation Center. He earlier spent 25 years at UCLA, where he was Chairman of the Department of Urban Planning for eleven years. After retiring from the University, Wachs became the Director of Transportation, Space, and Technology Program at the RAND Corporation. He now teaches and conducts research at UCLA in transportation policy. Wachs is the author of 200 articles and book chapters and wrote or edited five books on transportation finance and economics, relationships between transportation, land use, and air quality, transportation needs of the elderly, techniques for the evaluation of transportation systems, and the use of performance measurement in transportation planning. His research also addresses, equity in transportation policy, crime in public transit systems, and the response of transportation systems to natural disasters including earthquakes.

Dr. Dobbs is Professor in the Department of Family Medicine, Director of the Medically At- Risk Driver Centre, and Director of Research for the Division of Care of the Elderly at the University of Alberta. She is a gerontologist with specialization in psychology, medicine, and human ecology. She has published numerous books, research reports, and journal articles relevant to this project, including Adult Development and Aging: The Canadian Experience (Nelson Canada 2017); “Transportation Toolkit for the Implementation of Alternate Transportation for Seniors in Alberta” (The Medically At-Risk Driver Centre, 2016); “Staying Connected: Issues of Mobility of Rural Seniors”, in N. Keating (Ed.), A Good Place to Grow Old? Critical Perspectives on Rural Ageing (The Policy Press, 2008); and “Transportation and Aging: Exploring Stakeholders’ Perspectives on Advancing Safe Mobility” (South Africa Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2011).

September 2020
Aged drivers
Persons and Personal Characteristics



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