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September 28, 2015

How Older Adults Can Use Uber

“Uber gave me my wheels back.”

So says June, an 86-year-old grandmother from Miami who uses the Uber app when she needs transportation. She adds that it’s the “best thing since popcorn.”

According to the Community Transportation Association of America, 26 million older Americans rely on others when they need a ride. And when transportation is not readily available, feelings of isolation can quickly set in. As the American population continues to age — in 20 years, the 65-and-up demographic is projected to be 20 percent of the population — this issue will only intensify.

Enter Uber Technologies Inc. Uber is a mobile application that you can download to your smartphone and use to find a ride. It was founded in San Francisco in 2009; by 2014, it was releasing carpooling features. As of May 28, 2015, this service is available in 58 countries and 300 cities, including the Cleveland area.

On May 7, 2015, Uber participated in the White House Conference on Aging, where it announced its pilot program for community-based senior outreach. Uber is offering “free technology tutorials and free rides at select retirement communities and senior centers ... [and] establishing partnerships with local senior advocates, organizations, and municipalities across the country.”

How to Use Uber

First, sign up at https://www.uber.com/. You’ll be asked for your email address and to create a password. A pop-up screen requests permission to know your location, which you can allow or block. You’ll be asked for your name and phone number, plus the language that you speak. You’ll enter credit card information and then create your account.

You’ll be taken to a screen where you indicate what type of smartphone you have — say, an Android — and then you’ll receive a verification and permission to download the app to your phone. You simply click the “install” button. You will receive a text with a verification code and instructions on how to verify.

When you want to request a ride, you log in to your account and make your request. The driver comes to you and you’ll receive a text letting you know that he or she has arrived. After you arrive at your destination, Uber will charge the credit card on file and email you a receipt.

You can’t request a ride significantly in advance of a trip. You make your request shortly before you need the ride and, if you’d like a fare estimate before making a request, go to t.uber.com/fareestimate.

Uber is the first company that the California Division of Measurement Standards has authorized as “providing a reliable and accurate way to recommend fares using GPS data. ... Uber ‘meets or exceeds’ the traditional requirements of measuring distance and time ... [which] provides assurance that Uber can calculate recommended fares accurately and fairly.”

Here is a video created by Uber to share testimonials of older adults who are happy with the service, including June.

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