Free Rides Could Lead to Better Health Outcomes

Better access to on-demand transportation could help older adults miss fewer medical appointments and reduce their social isolation to improve their overall health, suggests a study published in The Journal of mHealth by researchers at the University of Southern California Center for Body Computing (USC CBC).

USC CBC researchers provided free and unlimited Lyft rides for three months to 150 older patients with chronic disease to see if better access to transportation could improve their access to medical centers and reduce their social isolation. The researchers also wanted to know its overall impact on their health.

Ninety-three percent of patients used the Lyft rides to access medical care, and a significant number learned to use smartphone apps and a telephone concierge service to do so. While visiting their doctors counted for 31 percent of all rides, the seniors used the remaining rides to get to fitness, social, and leisure activities. Ninety-two percent reported that this improved their perceived quality of daily life.

“Access to transportation is more than getting from point A to point B; it encompasses multiple human facets of life,” said Leslie Saxon, MD, executive director of the USC CBC and principal investigator of the study. “This research underscores how ride-sharing platforms can provide a significant benefit to the well-being of older adults, empowering them to become active participants in their own care as well as in other areas of their lives.”

The majority of older adults reported that cost was the primary barrier preventing them from continuing to use the ride shares after the study concluded. “Our findings on the benefits to seniors could incentivize similar programs on a larger scale by cities and insurance companies,” said Saxon.

This article was adapted from information provided by USC Health Sciences.


If you use a wheelchair or mobility device, Uber and Lyft offer options to make it easier for people with mobility challenges to use their rideshare services.

UberAssist provides door-to-door assistance from drivers who have been trained and educated by accredited third-party training centers to assist with common disability challenges, such as safely transferring from a wheelchair to the vehicle. Assist vehicles can accommodate folding wheelchairs, walkers, and collapsible scooters. The service is available in 40 cities.

UberWAV allows riders to request a ride from drivers with wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) that have ramps or lifts. Because of the shortage of Uber drivers who own their own WAVs, Uber has teamed up in select markets with third-party transportation provider MV Transportation to increase the number of WAVs and decrease wait times. UberWAV is available in ten cities.

Lyft Access Mode lets riders request a wheelchair accessible vehicle in certain markets. In areas where an accessible vehicle is not available, information about local accessible transportation services is sent via text message when a ride is requested. Lyft also publishes a list of market-specific options, including whether Access Mode is available in a particular city, on its website.

Next Post