Learn About Transportation Assistance Programs

Transportation assistance programs are available to individuals all throughout the country. Depending on their circumstances, these individuals may be eligible to receive discounted access to various transportation options in their areas. Generally, claimants may be able to access transportation services if they have limited funds or mobility. Additionally, these programs provide enrollees with access to various forms of public and private transportation.

Transportation funding for programs can come from various sources. Sometimes, federal or state governments provide grants to organizations and initiatives that work to improve access to transportation. In other situations, independent organizations may offer specific benefits or compensation to individuals who need assistance. Regardless of what transportation users need, accessing affordable transportation is an achievable goal through these programs.

Who can qualify for transportation assistance?

There is no uniform rule that determines who can qualify for transportation assistance and benefits. Generally, the organizations that fund these opportunities make these determinations. However, petitioners can expect that the following groups of individuals may have access to reduced or free transportation benefits via specific programs:

  • The elderly
  • Disabled individuals
  • Pregnant women
  • Low-income families
  • Residents in rural communities

About Medical Transport Services and Programs

In life-threatening circumstances, sick or injured individuals may need to access medical transport services to get to hospitals or other emergency care. However, some low-income or elderly people may hesitate to request these services because of the costs associated with these forms of medical transportation. This, in turn, causes risks for the patients who need care because many individuals in these extreme situations could lose their lives. Cities across the nation recognize the negative side effects associated with these high transportation costs. In some cases, specific communities have found ways to provide free transportation for medical appointments and emergencies to qualifying candidates.

One of the most comprehensive medical transport services packages comes from Medicaid. In different states throughout the country, Medicaid can provide emergency and non-emergency transportation to program enrollees who need to be transported to:

  • Hospitals or emergency care facilities.
  • Dental and doctor appointments.
  • Mental health appointments.
  • Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC) Center appointments.
  • Receive routing dialysis treatment.

However, claimants must remember that transportation services for non-emergencies will only be provided to recipients in extreme situations. In other words, individuals must not have any other ways of commuting to their appointments. If enrollees qualify under these stipulations, they may use Medicaid’s transportation services. In order to secure a ride, program enrollees must be sure to schedule these appointments at least three business days before they plan to use these transportation services. For emergency situations, though, calling ahead is not necessary.

About Free Transportation for Disabled Individuals and the Elderly

Across the nation, transportation assistance is available to elderly or disabled individuals. Each year, millions of patients do not attend important medical appointments because they do not have access to reliable transportation. One company that works to eliminate some of these access barriers is Lyft, a ride-sharing company that connects individuals with rides. Lyft works with various health care facilities and platforms to help patients and their providers schedule non-emergency rides to doctor’s appointments and checkups. Uber also offers similar programs to help support riders who need transportation.

These affordable transportation services allow doctors and patients to schedule one-time or recurring trips. This way, individuals have a greater likelihood of making it to their appointments on a regular basis. In some cities, there may also be local, free transportation for seniors or riders who have disabilities. For example, Ocean City in Maryland offers free bus passes to individuals who are older than 60 years of age. In some instances, users may need to purchase the bus pass, and there may be limits to where and when they can use their passes. However, these tools help senior citizens to remain active and engaged with their community without spending much money on transportation.

Some cities may also specifically provide free transportation for disabled residents and commuters. For example, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) offers free rides to enrollees in the Illinois Department of Aging’s Benefit Access Program. This program provides disabled riders with free transportation to work and other appointments throughout the city, as long as they are positioned on one of the transit’s fixed routes. In any case, these functional passes help to provide disabled adults with independence and the freedom to move around their communities.

Furthermore, discounted transportation services may be available to individuals aged 62 or older who need to take a Greyhound bus from one location to another. Senior citizens who use the Greyhound for intercity transportation may receive a 5 percent discount from their overall ticket prices. This national program makes long-distance bus travel more economical for elderly riders.

Likewise, Amtrak trains offer discounts to commuters and travelers who are 65 years of age or older. This discount provides riders with 10 percent off most rail routes in the United States and can be particularly useful to individuals who need a quick, cost-effective way to travel from one city to another.

Learn About Affordable Transportation for Low-Income Individuals

Various cities throughout the country offer affordable transportation options to low-income riders. Generally, these local governments create programs that make public transport economically accessible to individuals who may otherwise be unable to afford to ride city buses or metros. Examples of some places across the country that offer these benefits include:

  • Minnesota – In the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, low-income individuals can enroll in the Transit Assistance Program (TAP). This initiative provides low-earning residents with access to discount rides on the city’s public transportation systems for one year.
  • New Jersey – This state offers the Get a Job. Get a Ride Program for individuals who need to use the NJ TRANSIT to commute to and from work. Specifically, this program is available to workers who are beginning their first jobs after undergoing a period of unemployment and who might not yet have the funds to afford a TRANSIT pass.
  • New Mexico – Santa Fe Trails and Los Valles Transit provide free monthly passes to qualified petitioners. In particular, Santa Fe Trails offers bus passes to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients, while Los Valles Transit is available to New Mexico Works Program enrollees.