Nonprofit Transport Network to Serve Elders, Visually Impaired
February 14, 2012 A new, community-based, nonprofit transportation network for adults age 60 and older and visually-impaired individuals, called iTNGreaterBoston, debuted in Boston and seven communities, from Brookline to Ashland, last week.
matches older adults who are unable or no longer want to drive, with volunteer drivers from their own communities. Carefully screened drivers provide door-through -door rides in their own or donated cars, providing an affordable, flexible mode of transport for seniors often reliant solely on family members when public transportation is not accessible.
iTNGreaterBoston will roll out in phases, with the first phase focused on the Boston neighborhoods of Allston, Brighton. Fenway, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, Roslindale, and West Roxbury, as well as Ashland, Brookline, Framingham, Newton, Natick, Needham, Wellesley.
This is not just a ride to and from the health center or the grocery store; but an opportunity for residents of the same town to build connectivity and for organizations to increase their collaborative impact within the community, says Jean Patel-Bushnell, executive director of iTNGreaterBoston.
According to the organization, it is mirroring a model that has caught on across the countrycalled iTNAmericawhich allows volunteer drivers to bank their time for future rides for themselves, friends, or family, in any of the 22 affiliated networks across the U.S.
To launch, iTNGreaterBoston received start-up funding from MetroWest Health Foundation
and Tufts Health Plan Foundation
Tufts Health Plan Foundation.
Further funding comes from membership costsriders become members with prefunded personal accountsand a small fee per mile. Riders can also earn and store transportation credits for future use through donating their own cars to iTNGreaterBoston.
Many active older adults are isolated in their own homes due to lack of transportation options, said Martin Cohen, president and CEO of the MetroWest Health Foundation. Access to everyday services and just knowing you can go where you want when you want is invaluable to our senior population and the community at large.
David Abelman, president of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, said, Mobility for our older adult population reduces isolation and enables our parents and grandparents to continue to be important contributing members of our society, which is one of the many reasons we partnered with the MetroWest Health Foundation to launch ITNGreaterBoston locally.