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The Era of Microtransit: Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile Without Breaking the Bank

by Ryan McManus

With the era of baby boomers aging into the senior population, there is concern about an elevated mobility issue, as 20% of baby boomers have already ceased driving. Many of these individuals have the expectation to remain active into their 70s and 80s even if they cannot drive, so the looming question becomes how will senior living communities accommodate to this expectation? Microtransit is the answer.

Microtransit is a new category of transportation, where private companies operate dynamic transit services for groups of riders in a community with an emphasis on sharing – think middle ground between ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft and bus systems. Often times, these private companies have tailored partnership programs for senior living facilities to outsource their transportation. There are several benefits for senior living facilities that invest in microtransit:

Maximizing your transportation budget. Most senior facilities tend to turn to purchasing a couple vehicles for resident transportation, relying on employees to drive seniors to appointments and errands. However, these vehicles sit idle and deteriorate 90 to 95 percent of the time, making this a costly, inefficient plan of action for senior communities. The expectation of continued activity has the potential to be a big cost for unprepared senior care facilities already dealing with the volume demand of the boomer generation. Between vehicle cost, maintenance, scheduling trips, driver salary, insurance, etc., these expenses can result in thousands of dollars in losses. In fact, the total cost of vehicle ownership, divided by the number of rides is often shocking – outsourcing can result in a cost-per-ride reduction of 25 to 75 percent, depending on the flexibility needed for riders.

Prolonging the lives of your residents. According to a 2017 study published by The American Geriatrics Society, in community-dwelling elderly adults (ages 70 to 90), leaving the house daily was associated with lower mortality risk, independent of social, functional, or medical status. Whether a senior chooses to live in a community or age at home, the ability to travel at their leisure is key to happiness. Transportation can bridge the gap for residents in their communities, and “frequency of leaving” should be a leading metric for measuring the current state of your transportation program.

By providing your residents with a reliable transportation option through a microtransit partner, you will be improving their overall quality of life. In addition, having this added amenity gives your facility a competitive edge against other facilities who have not provided this important asset. When families are in the process of selecting a community, senior living facilities that can provide reliable transportation to doctors’ offices, grocery stores, local recreational facilities, restaurants and shopping centers are a step ahead in giving the highest quality care. Every aspect of transportation is changing, and seniors and senior communities alike are positioned to be the big winners, as the market for vehicles goes from owned to shared with microtransit.

Measureable insights. Partnering with an outside company allows facility managers to simplify transportation budgets by providing data around exact cost-per-ride, allowing for more accurate expense numbers and return-on-partnership tracking. Most microtransit partners provide data around the number of rides, common transport locations and the quickest routes to these locations.

Small details matter, and having a company that provides data and improves efficiency allows facility managers to have proof points on partnership success without having to invest their own time pulling data. Supplying data around frequency of leaving to seniors and their families validates the success your community maintains in ensuring ongoing resident satisfaction.

Improve your community. Increasing senior engagement in the community boosts your local economy, in turn creating direct relationships with local business owners. Oftentimes, community businesses may even express interest in assisting with ride costs because they know it brings more senior customers to their location.

Providing access to community amenities combats social isolation and gives access to essential day-to-day resources. Social isolation is the gap that develops between seniors and society due to lack of everyday contact. Social isolation can cause long term negative health effects, such as depression, high blood pressure and shorter life expectancy. By keeping seniors mobile, socialization of seniors in communities is nurtured, reducing likelihood of social isolation.

Kick starting the local economy and improving senior socialization creates an ongoing circle of development in your community – all while you’re improving your facility’s transit services. Accessibility becomes a community effort, and that is something many prospects and community stakeholders alike can appreciate.

Microtransit allows senior communities an alternative to maximize their resources and fleet management all while saving money. It provides a reliable solution that will provide your senior living community with a competitive asset to recruit future residents, while also enhancing your local economy and improving socialization of seniors.

CREDIT: Ryan McManus is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SHARE, where he leads the vision and strategy of the company to be a trusted, efficient transportation option for jobs, education, and healthcare.