Ride-hailing services want to make sure Grandma Betty can get to bridge club just as easily as her 22-year-old grandson travels to and from ... whatever it is young folks are doing these days.
Once the domain of 20-somethings who might have a drink or two and need a safe ride home, companies like Lyft and Uber have set their sights on a different age range entirely: senior citizens.
Lyft announced Tuesday it has partnered with GreatCall, a mobile phone company that specializes in providing cell phones to seniors, to extend its ride-hailing services to those who ― like the elderly ― may not have a smartphone, much less want to learn how to use an app on one to hail a ride.
Instead of an app, GreatCall customers dial “0” to talk to an operator, who can provide a cost estimate and book a ride. The fare is tacked onto the customer’s monthly cell phone bill.
Several third-party ride-hailing services also specialize in giving lifts to older adults who don’t have smartphones, including GoGoGrandparent, a newer entrant that adds additional features like meal and grocery delivery options.
As people age, one thing to go is the ability to drive. That means losing your freedom to get to doctor’s appointments and to stay social with friends.
This is far from either company’s first foray into the senior market, which, judging by recent moves from both Uber and Lyft, seems ripe for disruption.
And it couldn’t come at a better time. The first wave of the so-called “baby boomer” generation turned 65 in 2011, with the number of Americans aged 65 and older projected to keep growing until 2030, when it’s expected to peak at around 71 million people.
And in the Denver suburb of Centennial, where 15 years from now at least 30 percent of the population is projected to be over the age of 65, city officials are exploring replacing current dial-a-ride services with less expensive, more efficient rides via Lyft.
Starting Aug. 17, the city has embarked on a first-of-its-kind, six-month long pilot project, paying for Lyft rides to and from the area’s major light-rail station in a bid to increase mobility.
“We call Centennial the Silver Tsunami,” Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon told The Atlantic blog CityLab. “As people age, one thing to go is the ability to drive. That means losing your freedom to get to doctor’s appointments and to stay social with friends. We really want to help keep the people who started Centennial engaged in it.”
Note: The Huffington Post’s editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington is a member of Uber’s board of directors and has recused herself from any involvement in the site’s coverage of the company.