Photo: Older man walking up to board the bus

Can’t Drive? There Are Options in Sarasota and Manatee Counties

Posted on September 30, 2019 by Timothy Fanning, Herald-Tribune Media Group

Here’s a list of a small number of public, private and nonprofit transportation initiatives for older people and people with disabilities

When you’ve lost your independence, cannot drive, or do not have wheels, how do you get around town?

Although the default for most people might be friends and family, that’s not possible for everybody, said Tracie Adams, human services program manager for Manatee County Aging Services.

“People call us outside of snowbird season and say that their neighbors have left and that they are stuck, needing help,” Adams said. “A lack of year-round residency might mean that they have lost their informal support network.”

Filling that gap is a small number of public, private, and nonprofit transportation initiatives aimed at helping people 60 and older and people with disabilities do more than just see the doctor or grocery shop.

ITN SunCoast is one of the largest and arguably most-used transportation services in the area. With a combination of volunteer and paid drivers, the nonprofit is also one of the few options for more than a lift to the doctor or the grocery store.

Rides for ITN SunCoast’s regular membership is $4 per pick-up and then $2.15 per mile. The pick-up fee is waived for those who qualify for the limited income road scholarship program.

ITN SunCoast operates 24 hours a day, on weekends and holidays. As long as you schedule your ride the day before and your destination is somewhere in Sarasota or Manatee counties, the nonprofit will take you there, said Pat Ryan, ITN SunCoast’s interim executive director.

“We are the only service that’s door-to-door,” said Ryan. “Our drivers help you out of the house, help you bring in groceries, and help you into the doctor’s office.”
Call 941-364 -7530 or visit for more information.

ElderCare Services Unlimited:
ElderCare Services Unlimited uses a staff of 15 caregivers who do a combination of personal care, housekeeping, and transportation services. Most of its clients are in their mid- to late 70s and can no longer drive.

For $25 an hour and $1 a mile, one of the caregivers will help take clients to doctor’s appointments, fill prescriptions and groceries, and clean the house. In a pinch, ElderCare services can schedule a ride 48 hours in advance. Although the service cannot accommodate wheelchairs, it can take you anywhere in Sarasota County.

“Because there is a three-hour minimum, I always tell my clients to get as much out of the experience as possible,” said Kitt Crown-Boltz, the owner of ElderCare Services Unlimited.
Call 941-377-4465 or visit for more information.

Uber, Lyft, GoGoGrandparent:
Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft provide same-day service through the convenience of a smartphone — this offers a kind of immediacy that allows for the spontaneity not afforded by most other options. Lyft Concierge service even partners with certain home care agencies and retirement communities.

However, if you’re like most people over 70, you don’t own a cellphone, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s where companies such as GoGoGrandparent come in. The California-based company acts as a hotline for those who aren’t so tech savvy and want to hitch a ride with Uber or Lyft.

Although costs vary, customers who use GoGoGrandparent are charged for their rides at set rates by Uber and Lyft — plus 27 cents a minute for a concierge fee.

All three are curb-to-curb, so if you need door-to-door assistance, you might want to consider some of the more local options.

Buses and paratransit:
Many of the options listed above can often be out of reach for people living on a fixed income, said Harvey Brooks, the executive director of Suncoast Center for Independent Living.

“Transportation is expensive, and there aren’t a whole lot of options other than the bus if you can’t afford it,” Brooks said.

Although much cheaper, public transit is often limited to where it can take you, and pick-up times are also far from carved in granite. Bus stops can be inconveniently located and unreachable if you can’t walk far.

Sarasota County Area Transit and Manatee County Area Transit are also limited in service hours, so if you want to grab dinner or drinks with friends, something other than happy hour or early bird specials might be out of the question.

SCAT and SCAT Plus:
A single ride will cost you $1.25 on SCAT. If you’re over 65, you can ride for 60 cents with a SCAT Gold or Medicare card. Adults 80 and older can ride for free. You can purchase a 30-day unlimited pass for $40 or a seven-day unlimited pass for $20. Passes are half price if you’re over 65.

In addition to providing a fixed-route bus, SCAT also offers a Dial-a-Ride service for people with disabilities. It’s wheelchair accessible, and for a one-way ticket, you can ride anywhere in Sarasota County for $2.50. You need to apply for the service and reserve your ride a day in advance.

For more information on fairs, routes, schedules, and to apply for SCAT Plus, visit

MCAT and Handy Bus:
It’ll cost you $1.50 to hitch a ride on MCAT. Students, people 65 and over, active duty and military veterans, and people with disabilities can ride for 75 cents. If you’re under 5 or 80 and older, you can ride for free. The Anna Maria Island Trolley, which runs from the Anna Maria City Pier to Bradenton Beach, is also free.

The Handy Bus, Manatee’s Dial-a-Ride service for people with disabilities, charges $2 and will take you anywhere within the county line. Like SCAT Plus, you’ll need to apply and reserve your ride a day in advance.

For more information on fairs, routes, schedules, and to apply for the Handy Bus, visit

This story comes from Aspirations Journalism, an initiative of The Patterson Foundation and Sarasota Herald-Tribune to inform, inspire, and engage the community to take action on issues related to Age-Friendly Sarasota, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, National Council on Aging and the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition.

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