When older adults stop driving, they may worry about losing their independence. A UF and Florida Department of Transportation Safe Mobility for Life team wants to help them find transportation options so they can get to medical appointments, go shopping, head out with friends, or travel wherever else they want to go.
UF and FDOT have launched the website FindaRideFlorida.org, which features transportation options in all of Florida’s 67 counties.
“We know that a lack of transportation can have a big impact on physical and mental health. We want people to continue to meet their daily needs, participate in their communities and do the things they enjoy,” said Sandra Winter, Ph.D., OTR/L, the UF team’s project leader and the associate director of the Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation, or I-MAP, housed in PHHP’s department of occupational therapy.
Site users indicate their starting location and can select other search filters, including purpose of trip and special needs, such as wheelchair accommodations. Search results list the various transportation providers in that geographical area, along with details on cost, reservation requirements, service hours and contact information. Providers include traditional taxi companies, public transportation, nonprofits and ride-hailing services.
UF and FDOT first began offering an online transportation database in 2004. The newly launched FindaRideFlorida.org offers technological upgrades over the previous database, including the use of geographic information system mapping to make the site more accurate and user-friendly. GIS data captured by the site could also inform state policy by identifying transportation gaps.
Ultimately, the goal is that transportation options in Florida pass the “ice cream test,” said Sherrilene Classen, Ph.D., M.P.H., OTR/L, director of I-MAP and a professor and chair of the UF department of occupational therapy.
“If an older adult desires to have an ice cream cone at 9 p.m. on, let’s say, a Thursday evening, they should be able to obtain just that via user-friendly alternative transportation services,” Classen said.