Getting to doctors’ appointments, shopping, getting to a movie or even visiting with family or friends who live across town often can be out of the question unless someone agrees to act as chauffeur.
But imposing on another person without being able to at least compensate them for gas keeps many who are older than age 60 trapped at home.
“Seniors don’t like to ask people to take them places for free, and they don’t like to spend their own money because they’re on a fixed income,” said Candace Kortovich, mobility manager at Senior Services North Fulton.
Now there is a new program that should increase their mobility. Get Around Town Easily, or GATE, offers a transportation voucher system in which seniors can give their drivers vouchers that are redeemed for cash.
“This way a mother, for example, can give her daughter, who probably has been driving her around anyway, a little something to cover the gas, and they both can feel good about it,” Kortovich said.
Grace O’Hara, who recently moved to Johns Creek from south Florida, has macular degeneration and had to give up driving. She was the first to sign on for the GATE program.
Her youngest daughter is a designated driver for her and a friend is in the process of qualifying, O’Hara said. She uses the vouchers for grocery shopping, medical appointments and general shopping trips.
“This program is wonderful because I can decide to go someplace whenever I need to. It’s at my discretion,” she said. “For seniors like me, this is a great idea,”
Residents of Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, Roswell and Sandy Springs who are older than age 60 and cannot drive themselves or use public transportation are eligible for GATE.
Applicants must have someone who can do the driving for them. That can be a friend, family, a neighbor or other contacts. Only spouses may not be the designated driver.
For $25, passenger participants then buy a checkbook-style book of vouchers to use as payment for their transportation provider for one-way trips or roundtrips to a chosen destination. The voucher book has $10 and $5 vouchers for a total value of $100.
The passenger and driver must agree on payment for a trip ahead of time. “The price is just between them, we don’t set it,” Kortovich said.
After the trip is completed, they fill out the voucher with the trip information, sign it and send two copies to the Kortovich at Senior Services North Fulton.
The driver will receive a check for the voucher value.
The first step to become a GATE participant is to call Kortovich at (770) 993-1906, ext. 242, to set up an interview.
All participants and transportation providers will be personally interviewed before being accepted into the program.