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Center Identification Number:  77717     


Project Title:  Programs That Match Seniors With Volunteer Drivers   


Co-Principal Investigators:


Sara Hendricks, Senior Research Associate
Phone: (813) 974-9801


Michael Audino, Visiting Research Associate

Phone: (813) 974-3120





Center for Urban Transportation Research

University of South Florida

Fax: 813-974-5168


External Project Contact:     


Michael Wright

Public Transportation Office / Transit Planning





I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

The growth in the number of senior citizens in the U.S. is prompting much concern among both transportation organizations and social service agencies about how to accommodate seniors’ future transportation needs. In 2005, more than 35 million Americans were 65 years or older. This number is expected to grow dramatically; the U.S. Census Bureau projects that the number of senior citizens will increase nearly 80 percent by 2025 – to more than 62 million. In Florida alone, one in four citizens will be aged 65 or older.

The large number of seniors automatically makes them a notable traveling customer market. But now and in the future, seniors will have travel needs and constraints different from those of other traveling market segments. While some seniors may lose their ability to drive themselves safely as they age, more seniors are continuing to lead otherwise longer, healthy and active lives. More seniors also continue to work past age 65 out of necessity. Other seniors continue to work by choice and because their communities depend on their specialized skills, such as Hazel Haley, the school teacher of Lakeland, Florida, who continued to teach until retiring recently at age 89 and who received a commendation from Governor Bush. Society also relies upon the quantity and quality of community volunteer work accomplished by seniors. While senior citizens enjoy more active lives, they also must depend more heavily on various alternative forms of transportation for employment, medical appointments, shopping, and other trip purposes necessary for a full and enjoyable life.

Many seniors find they have limited mobility options when they stop driving, particularly if they live in suburban or rural locations. Absence of near-by personal service establishments makes many walking trips impossible. An increasing number of seniors live farther away from family members who could drive them to needed destinations, eliminating a traditional mobility option for the elderly. And in many parts of the U.S., public transportation is limited in geographic scope and time of day coverage. The result is that many present and future elderly travelers find they have few options other than paratransit and commercial taxi services.

A preliminary literature review found very few sources of information about volunteer senior ridesharing programs. However, the Beverly Foundation and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study in 2001, identifying 370 supplemental transportation programs for seniors of all types nationwide. The study documented characteristics of 236 of these programs, of which 39 percent used volunteer drivers only. The study concluded that additional research, demonstration projects and education were needed. The study cited problems experienced by many programs, including finding drivers (43 percent), finding funding (42 percent), vehicle availability (15 percent), and other problems including marketing, operations and insurance. There is essentially no guidance to help communities develop and improve volunteer senior ridesharing programs.

This study is intended to help fill this information gap by examining specific issues in common with most programs to determine alternative solutions. The result of this study will be a report that provides guidance for improving existing programs and developing new programs in Florida. The audience for this study will be transit agencies, paratransit agencies, not-for-profit programs and social service agencies who operate volunteer senior ridesharing programs or who plan to start a program. Other interested parties include policy makers, elected officials and government leaders who are confronting the issue of transportation needs of seniors and are looking for solutions.

II.  Objectives/Tasks

This research project has three objectives listed below.

• Identify and explore the challenges of developing and operating a volunteer senior mobility driving service.
• Propose solutions to establish successful programs. The project would highlight situations or circumstances in which various solutions could be effective.
• Prepare guidance/best practices that could be used by a variety of audiences.

Task 1: Literature Review

Using the 2001 compilation, “Supplemental Transportation Programs for Seniors” as a starting point, Task 1 will include a literature review of volunteer senior driving programs to identify and describe various service models. Task 1 will also determine if local private non-profit social and human services organizations are the only providers of volunteer carpooling programs or if other organization types have provided services, such as government or transit agencies who hire volunteers. This effort will include identifying other programs in addition to ITN® and its pilot cities. Research also will include examples of liability cases with respect to rideshare situations and what is being done to resolve any pertinent issue.

Task 2: Project Advisory Panel

A project advisory panel will be assembled to guide the research and provide perspective on specific issues, such as liability insurance. Panel members will represent existing senior volunteer transportation programs, existing non-senior volunteer transportation programs, private sector insurance companies, state and national organizations that represent the interests of senior citizens, and professional TDM organizations.

The panel will convene initially by netconference during the early stages of the project and will conduct periodic telephone meetings throughout the duration of the project.

Task 3: Examination of Legal Framework

Based upon recently completed work under the Florida TDM Clearinghouse in the development of a database of state laws pertaining to ridesharing and a summary of impediments and incentives, staff will pursue a detailed understanding of the legal framework under which volunteer carpooling programs operate. An emphasis will be placed on examining issues pertaining to driver and administrator liability. The review will uncover restrictions and parameters for operating volunteer senior driving programs and point to service delivery schemes that work better under existing law. An attorney may be retained to review and assess our findings pertaining to the Florida Statutes and any recommended draft language for legislation.

Task 4: Investigate Liability Insurance Problem

The insurance commissioner or representative of Florida and up to three (3) executives of their representatives from national auto insurance companies will be personally interviewed in order to obtain a complete perspective of the liability insurance issues. Interviews will focus on identifying the key elements of volunteer driver liability and potential risk management procedures.

Task 5: Interview Existing Volunteer Driving Program Administrators

In Task 5, up to 10 volunteer senior driving programs will be personally interviewed for the purpose of exploring the nature of already identified issues and new ones identified in Task 3. Additionally, representatives of non-senior volunteer transportation programs, such as the American Cancer Society’s “Reach to Recovery”, will be interviewed to identify unique problems and transferable solutions.

Travel will be undertaken if observing operations is deemed necessary or face-to-face interviews with multiple staff are required to obtain necessary information. Travel is further described in the Travel section below. Task 5 will also seek to survey or interview clients of senior driving services and representatives of transit agencies and MPOs to further characterize mobility challenges, identify issues, describe user preferences and gain insight into reasons for supporting or opposing various service concepts. Task 5 will document ways in which senior driving programs are addressing these issues, such as developing an efficient and convenient reservation/request and dispatch system, integrating the service with other established transportation options (public transit, taxi, paratransit), and establishing an efficient system to match drivers and riders for one-time or occasional trips. Task 5 will also document how senior driving programs currently fund operations and investigate opportunities for developing a funding mechanism for long-term operation.

Task 6: Final Report Preparation

CUTR will prepare a draft final report that will highlight situations or circumstances in which various solutions could be effective, and prepare guidance/best practices for use by Florida programs with possible application in other states. It is possible that the report may also provide legislative recommendations that enable volunteer senior driving programs to operate. This has already happened in at least one case in the state of Maine, where use of a private car to give paid trips to a third party had insurance implications if the car were involved in an accident. State insurance regulations were changed in light of ITN® operations.

Task 7: Editorial Review and Completion

Internal editorial review of the draft final report will be conducted. This input will be incorporated into the final draft prior to submittal to the Department. The draft final report will be edited for grammar, clarity, organization, and readability prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The editor providing the review will sign a cover sheet attesting to such review prior to submission. The provision for editorial services will be the Principal Investigator’s responsibility (the author or a designated party may perform the review). Upon receipt of review comments from the Department, staff will complete the final report.

III. Deliverables

Deliverables will include progress reports, a Draft Final Report to be submitted three months before the contract end date, a Final Report and a streaming media presentation. Deliverables will be provided on the last day of the month as indicated by the Project Schedule.

Progress Reports

Progress reports will be submitted on a monthly basis to the FDOT Research Center for processing. The first Progress Report will become due 30 days after a Notice to Proceed is issued to CUTR by FDOT and will be submitted within 15 days after the end of the month. Progress Reports will be sent in MS Word format to Sandra Bell, Contracts Administrator at

Progress reports will include the following information:

1. Contract Number, Work Order Number and Title
2. Work performed during the month
3. Work to be performed in the following month
4. Requested modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope)
5. An updated Exhibit “D” Progress Schedule

Draft Final Reports

The draft final report will be edited for grammar, clarity, organization, and readability prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The editor providing the review will sign a cover sheet attesting to such review prior to submission. The provision for editorial services will be the Principal Investigator’s responsibility (the author or a designated party may perform the review). It is expected that a well-written, high-quality report will be submitted. Reports failing to meet this requirement will summarily be rejected. The only changes allowable between the draft final report and the final report will be those changes requested by the Project Manager and the Research Center.

Final Reports

Thirteen (13) copies of the final report will be delivered to: The Research Center, 605 Suwannee Street, MS 30, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450. A camera ready unbound original, and an electronic copy in MS Word format on CD will be delivered by the end date of the RWPO.

One electronic copy in MS Word format of a Summary of the Final Report will include the following four sections: Background, Objectives and Supporting Tasks, Finding and Conclusions, and the Benefit of the Project. The Summary shall be a separate document and will be approximately 500 words in length.

The Final Report will contain a completed Technical Report Documentation Form #F.1700.7, immediately after the title page.

The Final Report will contain a page after the Report Documentation Form that states the following:

(1) The opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the State of Florida Department of Transportation, or the U.S. Department of Transportation.
(2) Prepared in cooperation with the State of Florida Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Final Reports will be bound with a front and back cover that is acceptable to the Department.

IV.  Project Schedule


RESEARCH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Task 1 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Literature Review 54% 100%                                
Task 2     2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Advisory Panel     44% 100%                            
Task 3 1 1 1   2 2 2     1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Legal Framework         26% 52% 100%                      
Task 4 1 1 1 1 1                 1 1 1 1 1
Liability Insurance           50% 100%                      
Task 5 1 1 1 1 1 1 1                      
Interviews               20%  40% 61% 81% 100%            
Task 6 1 1 1                              
Final Report                       25% 44% 64% 83% 100%    
Task 7 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1     1 1 1 1  
Editorial Review                          100%          


V.  Project Budget


Programs That Match Seniors With Volunteer Drivers

Budget Categories


Center Director Salary

$   2,167

Faculty Salaries

$ 69,600

Admin. Staff Salaries

$   6,868

Other Staff Salaries


Student Salaries

$ 13,680

Staff Benefits


Total Salaries and Benefits

$ 92,315


$   4,032 

Permanent Equipment


Expendable Property/Supplies

$      245

Domestic Travel

$   6,500

Foreign Travel


Other Direct Costs

$   6,000

Total Direct Costs


Indirect Costs

$  10,909

Total Costs



Notes: This budget does not reflect any federal participation. The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above. Budget requests includes salaries for clerical and administrative staff, postage, telephone calls, office supplies, general purpose software, subscriptions, and/or memberships.

VI. Equipment

No equipment is envisioned to be purchased under this project.

VII. Travel

Travel will be necessary to observe operations and obtain information from key staff, volunteers and clients. It is anticipated that up to 5 trips may be taken within Florida, and up to 5 trips outside Florida, to observe volunteer transportation programs and interview key staff and clients. For budgeting purposes, this proposal identifies both in-state and out-of-state destinations where different types of model senior driving programs are located and geographically distributed, based upon a preliminary survey of the literature. In Florida, these are Tallahassee, Orlando, Volusia County, Lauderhill, and Jacksonville. Outside Florida, these destinations are Knoxville, TN; Portland, ME; Pasadena, CA; Mercer County, NJ; and Denver, CO. However, these destinations are subject to change and alternative locations may be ultimately selected based upon later findings and in consultation with the FDOT project manager.

VIII. Student Involvement

A graduate student will:
Task 1: Identify, locate and summarize documents for the literature review
Task 2: Document and summarize main points derived from discussions with the Project Advisory Panel and the examination of state laws and insurance requirements
Task 3: Assist in the identification of case law with regard to liability
Task 4: Assist in preparation of interview guides and summarization of debriefing
Task 5: Assist in preparation of interview guides and summarization of debriefing
Task 6: Compile reference materials and check facts in final report drafts
Task 7: Check facts in final report revision

IX. Relationship to Other Research Projects

X. Potential Benefits of the Project




National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: