Community Ride-sharing outdoes Uber  …

by convenor on 26/04/2017

When visiting Brisbane recently for a niece’s wedding, I tried out Uber and found it to provide a good service.

“Calls” (on the Uber App on my Samsung S6) were responded to very  

promptly. And on my Samsung’s screen, I could see the details of the vehicle which had offered me a Ride, including the driver’s name, the car model and its registration number.

And as it approached the pickup point, I could see a map showing how far away it was from me and from which direction it was approaching. And the drivers were courteous, knew where they were going, drove sensibly and were willing to chat. The only “failing” that I observed was that there was no time to clip in the seat belt before we were off and moving. After all time is money, I thought.

And when a late-night pickup point was in an off-road location with several internal roads, a call from the approaching driver (to my  mobile) helped to clarify where we were waiting.

It did help that my first three (3) Rides were provided at a 40%  price discount but the customer service I received was not discounted and it got me thinking. Why aren’t Shut-in Seniors using it..

OK, so many Seniors don’t own or could not operate a smart phone. That’s a biggie.

Then there’s the use or “surge pricing” which can lead to a level of uncertainty about the final bill putting fares on a par with taxis. Also women users of Uber can’t nominate female-only drivers. And finally, scheduling days ahead, though possible, does not provide driver details in advance and needs a specific pickup time; something that is not possible for medical appointments which are common for the elderly.

What’s missing most though from the perspective of a Shut-in Senior, is trust in commercial ride-sharing to meet their individual needs. They have unanswered questions like:

  1. Who is this person who will offer them a Ride?
  2. I’m in a village without direct kerbside access. Where will they meet me?
  3. Will they help me with my walking frame?
  4. How will I identify them with my failing eyesight?
  5. Who can I talk to, if problems arise?

What I concluded is that Uber is good as far as it goes, but it’s not for the elderly who need a personalized transport service that they can communicate with easily, despite hearing and sight deficits, and have confidence in as Ride-day comes around.

There’s no doubt that the proportion of Seniors who will be able to use Uber will grow as the baby boomers age. But there’s no ongoing personal connection which is so important to those who are vulnerable, often living alone and socially isolated.

There’s no sense of community or togetherness for anyone involved in an Uber ride. That’s not a criticism of the service that Uber provides. It is, however, the nature of an Uber transaction. And time is money in the Uber world.


CarPalians, those volunteers who offer Rides to Shut-in Seniors, add that personal connection every step of the way and, in doing so, are helping to build a stronger local community in the Sydney Hills. Now with HillsCarPal’s 1000th Ride behind us and with over 120 people having joined our network, its not just stronger but it has real heart for those Seniors in need.

Whether its the friendly voice of the volunteer Facilitator who the Shut-in calls when a Ride is needed or the prompt and courteous volunteer driver who offer to take them, the Shut-ins are talking with friendly people who want to help them and go out of their way to do so.

Shut-ins tell us that they feel so special when a volunteer takes the time to take them where they need to go. They say it’s like making new friends each time they reach out for transport assistance. Maybe not BFFs; but they say that as you age your accessible friend network dwindles and having the opportunity to tell “your story” or just share a joke with a helpful, smiling face is uplifting.

And they remark that HillsCarPal drivers take time to do the little things that matter like helping them into or out of the car or to put on their seat belt.

Feeling valued again in your own community; knowing that someone cares is powerful and life-enriching they say. And you are not just seen as a “has been”.

CarPalians also get something out of assisting our Senior Citizens too. Volunteering isn’t a one-way street. It offers a chance for the volunteer to reap many rewards, including:

  • Making a positive difference for someone else;
  • Using & sharing the volunteers skills & knowledge;
  • Forming new friendships and meeting new people;
  • Having fun while enjoying new experiences; and
  • Participating in the local community.

It offers a break from the ethos of “time is money” and an opportunity to help isolated Seniors (aka Shut-in Seniors) to get where they want to go. And isn’t that the type of community we want to live in.

So CarPalians occasionally (or regularly, if  they wish) give a little of their time to help an awful lot of  Shut-in Seniors.

CarPalians find it easy to offer a Community Ride-share Ride because obligation has been replaced by flexibility for the individual volunteer.

When it comes to addressing social isolation in the elderly, nothing is more powerful than visiting a friend or family member; and attending community events comes in a close second. That’s why HillsCarPal created Community Ride-sharing to provide Rides 24/7 x 365 for #ShutinSeniors for any purpose.

Find out more at: and start changing your world one Ride at a time. Time is not always money!


All my best,






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