Description: Transportation Resources Information Planning and Partnership for Seniors (TRIPPS) is an initiative of the Brookline Council on Aging. TRIPPS launched in 2015 with initial funding through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation using federal 5310 funding. We provide information, resources, and support to older adults in Brookline who are looking for transportation options. Our focus has been on older adults who are either not driving or are transitioning from driving to other modes. About 70 percent of our older adults who we work with do not own a vehicle.
We initially published and printed a very thick resource guide that listed all of the different transportation options in our area and also included detailed explanations of how each option worked and other related information. We would distribute those copies directly to older adults and to providers and support networks. While the detail was helpful, it was also overwhelming, so more recently we pared it down to a two-page guide and translated that resource into a couple of common languages. The two-page guide describes the transportation options we offer here at the Brookline Senior Center, as well as other options that are available in our area. We pass out that shorter version to clients and providers. As a result, the Senior Center has become a centralized place where folks can call if they have questions about transportation.
Impact: Engaging older adults and fostering peer support have been important components of TRIPPS from the beginning. Older adult volunteers helped write the initial grant that launched TRIPPS, and have continued to help guide the direction for the programs and educational offerings provided over the years. We engage a volunteer group of older adults who meet once a week with TRIPPS staff. They volunteer as mentors and guides for other older adults on a variety of different transportation options and modes. For example, these volunteers have led organized trips on the MBTA (our local public transit system) to help residents who are new to using the subway or buses feel more familiar and comfortable with those options. These older volunteers are also trained on how to help other older adults apply for reduced-fare cards so they can get a discount when they ride public transit. While helping people apply for the reduced fare cards, the volunteers can also answer people’s questions about public transit and other transportation options. This has been a great way of engaging older adults in (potentially) their first conversation about transportation alternatives.
Technology is another focus area for TRIPPS. We see it as an equity issue, as technology has been playing an increasingly important role in transportation. We want older adults to be empowered to access the resources and information available because of new technologies. We started with Uber and Lyft. As local taxi companies began to go out of business in our area, a long-time TRIPPS volunteer started a class that we have offered in Brookline and in other towns on how to use Uber and Lyft. It is a two-session class, with a classroom-based session where we talk about reasons why older adults might want to try these apps and then we download the apps, and in the second class we would actually go out on a ride to help participants see how it works and overcome any initial fears.
We have incorporated this training into our operations because the Brookline Council on Aging offers a subsidized Lyft program, so we make sure any older adult who is signing up for that service knows how to use Lyft. We recently got another 5310 grant to develop a set of videos and how-to guides on how to use Uber and Lyft, Transit, and Google Maps, so we are working on that so we can share this information more broadly as well. We want to let older adults know that this information is out there and then they can choose whether or not they want to use these tools.