Archive for November, 2009

Senior Transportation Annual Retreat

November 23, 2009

Part of our vision for ITNAmerica as a national solution to the need for senior transportation was an annual retreat. We wanted there to be a time and place for ITN Affiliate Communities to share what they have learned. On October 22 and 23, that is exactly what we did. From Los Angeles and San Diego to Orlando and Sarasota, with Lexington, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, and Charleston in between, we came together as one senior transportation family here in Maine, in our old brick mill on the river, to learn and think together about the people we serve — older drivers, caregivers, healthcare providers, adult children, and most of all, older people who need door-through-door and arm-through-arm transportation.

Every ITN Affiliate Community has the same shared mission: To provide a community-based, community supported, economically viable and consumer-oriented, quality transportation service for seniors and adults with visual impairment.

But there are so many ways this can be done. What makes an ITN — Independent Transportation Network — affiliate community so special? I think it’s all in the mission:

Community-based and community supported — this means that every ITN is an independent, charitable, non-profit corporation with its own local Board of Directors, supported locally with volunteer drivers, charitable donations, car donations and CarTrade™, and shared annual community outreach events, like the Walk for Rides™.

Economically viable — this means that economic sustainability derives from reasonable fares from the people who use the service and a diversified base of local, community support. ITN Affiliate Communities may use public resources for up to 50% of their start up funds in the first 5 years, but after that, they do not use public funds for operating expenses. ITN supplements publicly funded service; it does not compete with it or replace it. We’re partners with public transit, not competitors.

Consumer-oriented, quality transportation service — ITN is always, entirely about the people we serve. That is why ITN is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for any purpose, without restriction. We use automobiles exclusively, and a combination of paid and volunteer drivers so we can provide service whenever an ITN member needs a ride. It is the service older people need and want.

At the retreat, we talked about our corporate partners, like Liberty Mutual, about the portal we use to share tools, like the Executive Dashboard, the Wiki and the Forum, about 5 year budgets, volunteer recruitment, and of course our Max and Helen Israelite Volunteer of the Year Awards.

We’d love you to join us. If you’d like more information about how to start an ITN Affiliate in your community, please email We will be happy to answer your questions.

Some Car Thief

November 18, 2009

When it comes to older drivers, it is much harder for men than for women to let go of the keys. I have seen baby boys in diapers run across the room and hit the couch by the window at full tilt, just to scramble up into the window in time to see the garbage truck because trucks are so exciting. What is this romance that men have with transportation?

Michelle Huneven’s article in the New York Times is her painfully funny account of her own father’s long and difficult journey from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat. It seems a miracle that he did not seriously harm himself or others in the process.

By her own account, Ms. Huneven’s father experienced dementia, and that may be a large part of the problem. People with dementia not only have an impaired ability to drive safely, they have an impaired ability to know they have an impaired ability. In the end, someone needs to act responsibly for older drivers with dementia who lose their way, literally and figuratively. We need to thank all of the Michelle Hunevens out there who are making these difficult choices. Most of all, we need to help them.

That is exactly what Liberty Mutual is trying to do, in many ways. First, they built a website to help adult children have this difficult conversation with their parents. Then, they developed an online game to help younger people experience what it is like to be an older driver. Finally, they developed a special suit, to help younger people experience what it is like to feel older. It’s a responsible approach that isn’t always easy to accept, but it is absolutely necessary and it will save lives.

It will also provide help for all of the Michelle Hunevans, so we do not have to struggle alone.