A study by the Surface Transportation Policy Project, AARP and American Public Transportation Association (APTA) found that the United States is ill prepared to provide adequate transportation choices for seniors. That could be problematic since, according to the APTA, the number of
Americans age 65 and older will double from 35 million to 70 million over the next 20 years.
However, the good news is that Allegheny County was one of the few communities singled out for making transit more convenient and accessible for seniors. One popular option is the Older Persons Transportation (OPT), sponsored by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Area Agency on Aging (ACAAA). OPT is a low-cost, shared-ride service available to adults 60 years of age and older who live in Allegheny County. OPT provides transportation for medical and health-related appointments, grocery shopping and senior center visits or activities within the county.
In addition to OPT, the variety of transportation options for seniors in Allegheny County include Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP), Port Authority and ACCESS.
OPT (Older Persons Transportation)
OPT was originally set up to transport seniors to senior centers throughout the county. But due to its popularity, OPT expanded to be able to provide transit for medical appointments.
As a shared-ride service, OPT riders travel with others going in the general direction at the same time. OPT provides door-to-door service, including help getting on and off vehicles, and up and down as many as four steps. Service hours are from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Except for dialysis, chemotherapy/radiation or physical therapy, you are limited to two round trips per month for medical purposes if you are 65 years of age or older. If you are 60-64 years of age, you must receive prior approval from the ACAAA for all medical trips.
You may also use OPT for grocery shopping once a week in areas where shopping groups with a minimum of three riders are organized. If you are a Medical Assistance recipient, you are not permitted to use OPT for medical trips since Medical Assistance Transportation (MATP) is available (see below). You may use OPT, however, for non-medical trips, such as grocery shopping, senior center visits and senior center activities.
For more information, call the SeniorLine at 412.350.5460.
MATP (Medical Assistance Transportation Program)
MATP (Medical Assistance Transportation Program) provides non-emergency medical transportation to residents of Allegheny County who have a valid PA DPW Medical Assistance Card. MATP provides transportation for the purpose of receiving medical services. The transportation available may be:
- tickets or tokens to ride public transportation,
- mileage reimbursement for use of a private car, or
- paratransit services (for example, in a van).
Transportation services begin once the Allegheny County Assistance Office verifies your eligibility. For more information, call 412.350.4484.
Port Authority of Allegheny County
The largest transit service available to seniors is through Port Authority. The Free Transit program allows seniors to ride free on local public transportation (buses, trolleys and rapid-transit lines) during off-peak hours, weekends and certain holidays. Seniors must obtain identification cards, which are available free of charge, from participating transportation providers. Last year, seniors took nearly 6.4 million rides on the Port Authority’s fixed routes. The state provides funding that enables seniors to ride free on all fixed route systems simply by showing a Medicare card or senior citizen identification card available through the Port Authority. Port Authority has replaced over half of its bus fleet with low-floor buses to make it easier for seniors to get on and off city buses. Many of their buses are also equipped with wheelchair ramps to accommodate those with disabilities.
For more details on the Free Transit program, visit www.ridegold.com or call 412.442.2000.
ACCESS 65 PLUS/ACCESS ADA
ACCESS 65 PLUS is the most open-ended of the shared-ride services because it has fewer restrictions than the others. ACCESS, sponsored by Port Authority of Allegheny County and is operated by ACCESS Transportation Systems, Inc., a subsidiary of Multisystems, Inc., is a door-to-door paratransit service for seniors and people with disabilities. Special vehicles pick up customers at their homes and take them to destinations including fixed route transit stations. There are no restrictions on the purpose or number of trips which may be taken by riders, except that riders are required to share their vehicle with others traveling in the same direction and at the same time. Service is provided from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week, and at such other times and places that Port Authority fixed route service is in operation. To place a reservation for ACCESS service, call 412.562.5353. All trip orders must be placed one day in advance between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.