Older Vermonters Who Have Given Up Driving Can Face Isolation, Loneliness

  • Date: 05/08/2024

Burlington had never seemed so far away to Joel Rosinsky.

His heart was set on making it to the Flynn theater to attend a 50th-anniversary performance of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show, his favorite, on April 20. But Rosinsky, who no longer drives, faced a now-familiar conundrum: He had no way to get there from his home in Essex Junction, a mere 10 miles away.

Since Rosinsky gave up his driver's license three years ago because of eyesight loss to macular degeneration, his world has closed in on him. The nearest bus stop is a half-mile walk. The bus trip to Burlington can take 90 minutes, and service ends at 7:30 p.m., all but ruling out evening outings. A separate service for older Vermonters and people with disabilities, called the Special Services Transportation Agency, also quits at 7:30. When Rosinsky requested a ride from the agency a few weeks ago, it never showed up. Private rideshare services such as Uber are far too expensive for Rosinsky, who depends on Social Security.

Here he was again, trying to solve the puzzle of getting ... anywhere.

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