Thursday, November 17, 2016

Residential Care Transportation

Residential Care Transportation

One of the most common items marketed with residential care is free transportation. My wife’s trip to the emergency room, the first month we were at Provincial Living at Columba, in an ambulance, cost us $200 to get there, and a taxi fare to get back.

Last night about 8:00 pm, the resident nurse, a residential care person, and I had a conference on what to do with my piercing earache. It was Saturday. An ambulance would be $200, or a lot more if the insurance failed to pay because the ER determined that the earache was not an emergency.

Drivers are available during the day and by previous arrangement to almost any event or purpose. They were in no way letting me drive my self.

That was something new. What do we do when we cannot drive? And when do we sell the car because it is a luxury we no longer really need? A year ago Columbia, MO, and Honolulu, HI, had the highest taxi prices in the country.

Columbia, MO, now has Uber. I downloaded it at noon yesterday. I played with it a bit. This morning I clicked Uber and found it already had me connected up with a driver sitting about a mile away. The fare was $5 to go from somewhere near here to the Boone Hospital (so I thought). I could not find the cancel button again. The car started moving on the screen. I turned Uber off and then back on. The car was closer.

I had ordered my breakfast, so I went out front to see if a Volkswagen Jetta had arrived. The concierge also watched. No car. I ate breakfast and returned to memory care. I explored Uber a lot more.

The trip history was from 522 E. Broadway (green dot) to 200 S. William St. (red dot). This was a different driver from last night, who I though I had cancelled in five minutes (and did) going to Boone Hospital. (Trip history: 301 Tiger Ln to I-27 N Stadium Blvd)

I later found a message, “7:22, Here Main Entrance.” Cancellation charge $5.00.

The trip I ordered, and cancelled yesterday at noon, and the trip that “just happened,” and I did not get cancelled this morning both have flaky trip histories. Each trip is about one mile long. The two trips are about three miles apart and much further from Provision Living. Whatever I did yesterday rattled Uber’s brain.

I just now clicked UBER to see what I did to receive a $5.00 refund, and the address 1800 Chapel Wood Rd is showing in the SET PICKUP LOCATION window. None of the trips or this address included 2333 Chapel Hill Road where we live.

Click the three horizontal lines in the upper left of the screen for help. Then click HELP. Then click  “Report an issue with this trip”. Then click “I had an issue with my fare.” Then click “I was charged a cancellation fee.” And see “We’ve credited your Uber account”.

Click the three horizontal lines for help. Then HELP. Then “A Guide to Uber.” Then “Taking a Trip”. Then “Cancelling an Uber ride”. Read carefully.

The software works. You can actually contact the driver by phone or email. You have five minutes to find out if the service is free of tobacco smoke and air fresheners or cancel and click another driver.

One of the RAs in memory care has a husband who switched from a smoke free taxi service (we did find one in Columbia before we moved here) to drive for Uber. He figures that Uber costs about 2/3 the cost of a taxi.

Uber gives you an estimate for a trip. Prices vary with the demand for service. Higher prices on busy times. At 3:05 the estimate to Boone County Hospital is $10-$14. “Pickup Time is Approximately 14 minutes . . . 13 minutes . . . 19 minutes . . . 15 minutes . . .” A map shows the trip. Now is the time to click “REQUEST uberX” and be ready to cancel if things do not look as expected. Hold down the cancel button until confirmation is requested. gives a good estimate with a better map for Uber but nothing for taxies in Columbia. Google ( to get estimates for taxies in Columbia, MO. [Enter Columbia, MO at top of screen]

At $25/round trip, our car insurance alone would pay for more than one trip a week. Day trips would require a car rental. Scheduled Provision Living trips are free to shopping centers, medical appointments, various attractions, and even (weather permitting) to the St. Louis zoo.

Enterprise will pick us up and drop us off for $40 a day economy and $45 a day for a car just like ours, a Chrysler 200C, as a one day rental. I need to renew my driver’s license in November. I will be 86 on December 6. [Done for 3 more years.]

As long as we have the car and I can drive, I can believe I am a free spirit (independent living second person) guest at Provision Living. I am not yet one of “them” but an observer of three developing communities that share this gigantic building.

I share a table in the main dining hall at noon near the windows where we look out to the North at the forested bank of the Missouri River through the windows of a tourist boat tied up for a spell (heavy rains) or grounded on a mud bar (no rain).

With enough tai chi and time in residence, time stretch’s and shrinks. Toss in the History channel and you can be any place and at any time. I think of my time again on the USS Billy Mitchell troop ship in the Pacific Ocean, where it was the flu that brought me to grief rather than an earache.

1 comment:

  1. I was surprised to learn that Columbia's taxis are as expensive as in Honolulu. I have used Uber only once, and I was happy to have it. My other choices were to wait over an hour for an inefficient city bus (which still would have left me to climb a steep hill in 90-degree heat), or wait and then spend a fortune on a taxi.

    Driving is so important as a symbol of independence. My parents both continued driving much longer than they should have. (And I probably will, too.) But once the decision was made, it turned out not to be so bad. We are lucky to live in a time and place where we have plenty of choices.