Whoever first coined the term “there’s no such thing as a free ride” probably wasn’t thinking about how that phrase might apply to an efficient and accessible public transportation system. Chances are, they weren’t thinking about senior adults either. Perhaps they should have been. As we understand the use of the phrase “there’s no such thing as a free ride” refers to the amount of work and effort one must engage in throughout their lifetime in order to be successful. The saying suggests that it’s only hard work which will result in achievement – whether that’s in one’s career, family, in purchasing the family home or mastering a certain skill set. Yet, who more than seniors, are examples of folks who have indeed paid their dues, worked hard and who are now ready to enjoy (and deserve) the fruits of their labour? That’s why today Amintro is saying there IS such a thing as a free ride and why for many great reasons providing free or nearly free public transportation travel options for seniors just makes good sense.

What’s in a free ride?

After a lifetime of hard work, a free ride on public transportation tells seniors that they are valued and that getting around town needn’t be a financial burden. Many mature adults choose to give up driving voluntarily, along with all of the various costs associated with owning a vehicle. The freedom to travel without having to worry about parking, traffic jams or even whether to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner provides a level of “carefree” that can’t always be matched when commuting by car. Sometimes other issues like reduced vision or mobility issues are further reasons older adults cite when giving up driving. Thankfully, communities around the world are slowly realizing the benefits of low cost or free public transportation for seniors and sometimes, for all their citizens whether inhabitants of the local community or tourists visiting for just a day or two.

Accessible and affordable public transportation is, in and of itself, a mobility aid to a senior who might not otherwise be able to move around easily or who must rely on rides from friends or family. Across Europe, cities like Dunkirk, France have made busses free for all riders. Dunkirk is in fact, the largest European city to offer free public transportation. Tallinn, Estonia was the first city to offer “fare-free” services on its busses, trams and trolleys and there are now currently at least two dozen cities in France and five in Germany that are experimenting with (or who have already implemented) free public transit for seniors and/or for all citizens. In 2020, Luxembourg is set to become the first country offering freedom from fares.

Closer to the home of Amintro’s Head Offices, many communities both large and small are experimenting with free or low-cost transit for seniors including: Brampton, Burlington and Ottawa, all located in Ontario, Canada. Brampton Transit considers a senior as anyone aged 65+ and will, starting in September of 2019, be offering that demographic a $15/month pass. Their goal is to make transit free for this age group by the year 2022. The City’s Mayor, Patrick Brown, commented “Who is more appropriate to start with free transit than seniors? They’re the ones who have built our community.” We couldn’t agree more. In the US, cities there too are also embracing the need for change with locations like Chicago now allowing seniors to ride public transportation for free. Denver Colorado is another metropolitan centre that offers both free and reduced fare services for its senior population.

Allowing seniors, many of who are already on a reduced income, to ride for free, helps alleviate some of the financial burden many older adults face. Free public transportation helps in reducing social isolation, provides easier access to medical services and helps decrease loneliness. In fact, the more we think about it, free public transportation sounds an awful lot like Amintro. We help reduce social isolation by offering a free friendship-making app for those 50+, thereby decreasing loneliness one friendship at a time! It goes without saying that free public transportation is great for the environment too – helping to reduce our carbon footprint – especially if you’re taking transit with a friend meaning there are two less cars on the road! Turns out in many cities around the world, there is such a thing as a “free ride” and for seniors that’s “great” news indeed!

Written by Sheralyn Roman

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