Programs that Match Seniors with Volunteer Drivers—Practical Recommendations for Organizations and Policy Makers

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - drivers, mode - paratransit


Aged; Liability insurance; Mobility; Paratransit services; Recruiting; Social service agencies; Volunteers


Seniors need adequate transportation, not only to maintain their health and vitality, but also to stay active in the community and fully participate in life. Transportation is the essential link to basic services needed by the aging population. The problem that this research project address is the documented general lack of transportation options suitable for seniors who are not longer able to drive, particularly those who are too frail to use public transportation. The development and operation of volunteer driving programs for seniors has been one approach to solve this problem. However, these programs encounter various operational challenges, including a demand for service that is far greater than program capacity. Challenges involve configuring volunteer driving services that can be sustained over time within the limitations of scarce resources. While the issues facing volunteer driving programs are varied, the most significant problem is insufficient numbers of volunteers. Protecting the safety of riders and drivers and properly insuring a program are both fundamental to the success of a volunteer driving program. Liability insurance problems can profoundly influence how a volunteer program operates. This research project had three objectives: (1) to identify and explore the challenges of developing and operating a volunteer senior mobility service; (2) to propose solutions to establish successful programs; and (3) to provide guidance on best practices that could be used by a variety of audiences, including transit agencies, paratransit agencies, non-profit programs, social service agencies, volunteer driving programs and policy makers. This report provides recommendations to volunteer driving programs on how to enhance risk management and recruit volunteers. Recommendations are offered to public transit agencies and commuter assistance programs on how to coordinate volunteer driving programs. Recommendations are provided for rising public awareness and legislative remedies to enact liability reforms.