It’s not just retirees. Across America, Americans need rides.
At ITNAmerica, we focus on transportation for older folks — rides to and from doctor’s offices, the grocery store, community centers, friend’s houses, anywhere our members want to go. That puts us in the heart of the transportation conversation, and much of the focus (as well as many of the challenges) center around rural places.
But while ITNAmerica‘s mission is to aid seniors and visually impaired people, rural transportation is not just an elder issue. It’s an American issue. Regardless your age, if you don’t have a car or can’t drive it can be hard to get from one place to another in America. This country’s transportation network is set up for individual automobile ownership, and those without cars can find themselves isolated. Companies like Uber and Lyft make a business out of offering alternatives, but in lower density communities, where distances between destinations are so much longer and opportunities to share rides are few, these services do not work.
So rural communities are taking transportation into their own hands. The New York Times this weekend highlighted a handful of locally-based transportation solutions — city-supported electric vehicles in California, volunteer drivers on the Canadian border of New York, entrepreneurial ventures in Nebraska and South Dakota — ITNAmerica among them. Executive director Katherine Freund was quoted pointing out that rural places understand the importance of community and of neighbors helping neighbors. These are the characteristics that make ITNAmerica work, and they are the traits that give life and promise to every example cited in the Times piece. Effective solutions require community engagement, buy-in, and new modes of thinking. New modes exist, and not just among tech startups.
These are exciting times in transportation, from new business models and community ridesharing platforms to developing technologies. Advancements and original thinking are creating opportunities for those working to solve the transportation conundrums facing Americans of all stripes. Here at ITNAmerica, we focus on seniors and rural communities, and we honor the volunteers who make solutions happen. It’s our part of the puzzle.