ITNAmerica has a tagline: “Dignified transportation for seniors.” It’s simple. Four words. But that short phrase carries a lot of weight, and it serves as a guide for everything we do. Some words are easy: Seniors means anyone over 60. Transportation means we offer rides. If you’re over 60 we’ll pick you up and take you where you need to go.
But what about that other word? Dignified. That’s not so simple. Here’s where things get complex. Because lots of organizations offer transportation, and many of them offer transportation to seniors. What exactly is “dignified” senior transportation? How is it different from other ride services out there? What makes an ITN ride special?
The idea behind ITN is that it doesn’t feel like a transportation service. Transportation services are transactional, like a taxi, or they’re about cramming people into buses. Neither feels particularly enjoyable.
ITN is different. It is designed to give people the same access to a car as they had before they put down their keys. It doesn’t feel like a taxi ride; it feels like taking a trip in your own vehicle. Need to make a quick run to the store? ITN can help. Want to invite a passenger? With ITN you can do that too. With ITN you can go where you want, when you want, without having to explain. You aren’t doing the driving, but with ITN, you’re in control.
Many people describe ITN as feeling like a ride with a friend. But that’s only partially true. The atmosphere is a friendly one, and no cash ever changes hands in the vehicle so it doesn’t feel transactional, but the fact of the matter is when you ride with ITN you are in charge. This is not someone doing you a favor; this is a service, one our riders pay for, and it is meant to serve the rider’s needs. This is a non-profit ride service. There is no need to tip, and no need to apologize, even if you want to go is out for ice cream at 10:30pm. Your car is your car, and with ITN, your ride is your ride. You can do with it whatever you want. ITNs are designed to give older people the freedom to travel without ever taking the wheel. The when, where and why is up to you. All that’s left for ITN is the how.
We do, however, know senior transport, so our drivers do a few things differently: We offer arm-through-arm, door-through-door service. We know the changes that older people experience, and our job is to keep our riders safe, both on the road and on the walk to the car. We know our riders appreciate the assistance, but that’s no favor either. It’s just part of the service. Our riders are customers, and our job is to see their needs met. We might be a nonprofit, but our members have every right to demand quality service.
That’s what dignity means. Our service is just that — a service — and our riders are our customers. We have a job to do, and we intend to do it well. It’s what makes the ITN difference.