Older people often cite transportation as being one of the most important factors in the ability to remain independent, meet the obligations of daily life, and avoid becoming isolated.
Brookline is unique in that three of the major Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority transit lines run through the community. In addition, the town is served by several of the MBTA's bus lines. Also, Brookline, through its Council on Aging, provides a range of transportaion services for elderly citizens.
Everyone over the age of 65 is eligible to ride the MBTA at a discounted fare with the use of an MBTA senior identification card. To obtain a card you must go to the Back Bay Station or Downtown Crossing Station and fill out an application. Proof of age is required (for example, a birth certificate or Medicare card). Cards are valid for five years. (Link to the MBTA website.)
Brookline Senior Center Van
The Brookline Senior Center Van provides door-to-door transportation to the Senior Center. The van's hours of operation are Monday through Wednesday, from 9 am to 4 pm, and Thursdays from 10 am to 4 pm. The suggested donation for this service is $1.00 per ride. For more information or to schedule a ride, call 617-730-2750.
The Brookline Elderbus makes an hourly circuit every weekday from 9 am to 3 pm that includes the Brookline Senior Center, elderly housing, shopping areas, and the Longwood Medical area. A contribution of 50 cents is requested, though not required. Schedules are available in English, Russian, and Chinese from the Senior Center, the bus driver, or here (English).
Brookline Elder Taxi System (BETS)
BETS is a program that enables income-eligible Brookline residents to purchase discount taxi coupons at reduced rates. $10 worth of taxi coupons can be purchased for $5.
To be eligible for BETS, an indiviudal must be 60 years or older with an income not exceeding $46,300; for a couple the limit is $52,950. First-time purchasers or their representatives must apply at the BETS office (Brookline Senior Center, 93 Winchester St.) with proof of income. Subsequent purchases can be obtained by mail.
BETS is sponsored by the Council on Aging, a Community Development Block grant, and all licensed Brookline cab companies.
THE RIDE is operated by the MBTA and provides handicapped accessible, door-to-door transportation service for those unable to use public transportation due to a medical condition. The program requires an application that must be completed by both the applicant and by a licensed health care or human services provider.
The RIDE provides medical and non-medical transportation on a space available basis to most destinations serviced by the regular MBTA system. One-way transport costs $2.
Application requests and general informaiton are available on the T website or by calling 617-222-5123. To request a trip, or to confirm a trip, call 877-765-7433.
Hospital Shuttle Buses
Partner's Healthcare: Partner's offers many shuttles that travel from various community locations to the Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), Faulkner Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Shuttle buses for Brigham and Women's Hospital, leave every 15 minutes from 10 Brookline Place. Individuals going to the Faulkner Hospital or Mass. General can then catch another shuttle at Brigham and Women's. For schedules, click here.
Dana Farber Cancer Institute: A shuttle bus to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute leaves every 30 minutes from 1309 Beacon Street, Trader Joe's.
Several local agencies provide volunteers or paid workers that accompany frail seniors to medical appointments. Details here.
The Car-Sharing Alternative
Parked throughout Brookline (and over the line in Boston) are scores of cars that can be rented for as little as an hour at a time.
Zipcar (1-866-4ZIPCAR) is a membership-based car-rental company with a one-time application fee of $25 and an annual fee of $50. Reservation rates start from $8 an hour or $66 per day. Gas, insurance, and maintenance are included in the price.
Zipcar members can reserve cars online or by phone just minutes prior to a trip or as long as a year in advance. Users of zipcars have automated access to the cars they have reserved -- a wireless chip allows access to the car only at the hour it has been reserved. By swiping the windshield with their personal "zipcard," drivers unlock the door, find the key (already in the ignition), and go.
Personalized Driving Service
Starting in January 2012 ITN Greater Boston is providing a new "door-through-door, arm-through-arm" personalized driving service 24/7 to people over 60. The annual fee is $60 ($100 for families), and members pay an average of $11 for each ride (10% off on rides for members willing to travel with others). The Independent Transportation Network already provides service in 20 other communities nationwide. The service allows members to trade in their cars for free rides; it also enables volunteer drivers to store transportation credits that can be used for their own future needs or transferred to a loved one or to a fund for low-income riders. More information at http://itngreaterboston.org/