Two San Diego Women Launch National Ridesharing Service For The Elderly
Getting around by car can be challenging for the elderly. Once people are too old to drive, they usually rely on family or public transportation to get around.
Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft can help fill the gap, but there is a problem: they only work on smartphones, which many older people do not have.
Last month, two native San Diegans launched a company called Arrive, which aims at a solution. Its users call the company's operators on the phone, who then dispatch an Uber or Lyft to pick them up.
Amy Stice, one of the co-founders and a Patrick Henry High School graduate, said she started the company with her 89-year-old grandmother in mind.
"My grandmother talks to a friendly person on the phone, and a ride can pick her up from home in under 10 minutes," Stice said. "Like a lot of her friends, she carries a flip phone, so it is simple for her to call us again to get picked up from her destination."
Her grandmother, Louise Bergseid, lives in Allied Gardens and has used Arrive a few times.
"I have an Arrive brochure on my refrigerator along with other things I need to remember, and the number's there," she said. She asks for a ride, then waits. The operator calls back when the car has arrived so she does not have to wait outside.
"The lady that picked me up — well actually she was a young girl, but she probably doesn't consider herself young — she was just delightful," Bergseid said.
She pays the fare for the ride, plus an extra $3. Arrive membership costs $5 a month.
Elizabeth Legg, the other co-founder, said she knows the price means Arrive will not work for everybody, but points out it still can be cheaper than owning a car or calling a taxi.
"We can do a fare estimate so people would know how much it would cost from their home to a certain destination," she said.
The other advantage to using Arrive is that the service stores each member's home address and favorite destinations, she said. That makes it easy to call and get a ride without remembering the exact location of where you want to go.
There are other companies offering similar services — Lift Hero or SilverRide, for example — but most require advance booking, while Arrive can send a car within 10 minutes.
Legg said the service also does not have to be a complete replacement for a car.
"If you can drive during the day and just don't like driving on the freeway, don't like driving at night, don't like driving in the rain, it's nice to have a backup option," she said.
For the first month, Legg and Stice were the only phone operators for Arrive, but they recently hired five additional employees and hope to expand their hours beyond 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
For Berseid, it has already made a difference. She does not drive, so she relied on her children to take her where she needed to go. That meant she spent a lot of time at home reading books.
Now, she is able to pick up the phone and do errands or get groceries on her own.