FCSN // LINK Center: “Transition” Means Trying New Things!
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LINK Center: “Transition” Means Trying New Things!

By Nancy Mader, Director of Transition Projects, and Linda Cohen, Office Assistant

Nancy and Linda in the office.

As we all know, transition happens all throughout life. We transition to new jobs, new houses, and new stages of life.  Last spring I sat down with my colleague Linda Cohen to talk to her about her transition from using The Ride for transportation needs to using the MBTA’s On-Demand Paratransit Pilot Program, which partners with the ride-sharing service Lyft. I suggested Linda try the pilot program last year, after hearing her talk about all of her troubles with The Ride.

Transitioning to new things is hard for almost everyone, but it can be especially hard for our friends and family members with special needs. I was busy and moving fast (as always), trying to convince Linda that this would change her life. She did the right thing for her and took her time and made the decision on her own terms, which made her feel safe and comfortable. 

I sat down for a chat with Linda recently to talk about her experience using Lyft through the MBTA On-Demand Paratransit Pilot Program.

Nancy: How many years did you take The Ride as your primary means of transportation?

Linda: I started taking The Ride when we moved into our office at the Schrafft Center, so over five years. I used the MBTA before that because the old
offices were in places that were easier to get to on the bus or T.

Nancy: What were some of your frustrations with taking The Ride?

Linda: They didn’t pick me up on time, they’d pick up other people, and sometimes I had to be in the van/bus for a long time. In bad weather the services can be worse and take even longer. You have to do a lot of waiting with The Ride.

Nancy: When I told you about using Lyft/Uber through the pilot program what were your first thoughts?

Linda: I was kind of nervous. So I called my sister to talk to her about it. She told me to try it if it was safe. I also talked to you about it because I wanted more information.

Nancy: Do you remember your first Lyft ride?

Linda: Kind of because it was a long time ago now.

Nancy: Do you remember how you felt that day when you took your first trip?

Linda: A little nervous when I got in the car. It was different for me. You helped me order the car with the app.

Nancy: Did you feel safe in the car?

Linda: Yes. I texted you when I got home so that you knew that I was safe.

Nancy: You got home in 20 minutes, how did that feel?

Linda: It was so much faster than taking the Ride. Sometimes it took me an hour and a half to get home on the Ride.

Nancy: After that first trip on Lyft you started using it a couple of times a week and now how do you use it?

Linda: I use it all the time now. I take Lyft to work every morning and take it home one day a week. I use it to run errands and to go places.

Nancy: Do you like it?

Linda: Yes. It’s better than the Ride because it’s on time and you don’t have to wait so long. It is just you in the car and you don’t have to drop other people off. It’s an app on my phone and it’seasy to use and set up rides. I set up the rides on my own now and sometimes I mess up but that’s ok.

Nancy: The app took you a bit of time to learn how to use but now you’re a pro. What kind of things did you and the people that help you do to make it easier?

Linda: We labeled addressed that I go to a lot like “work” and “home.” I like to go to the farmers market in the summer so we put in that address and it’s called “farmers market” so it is easy for me to find. I had to have help to do this but it makes it easier when I get rides.

Nancy: You only get a certain number of rides per month, how do you manage that?

Linda: I have to check a lot and when I am confused I ask you or someone at home to help me because I don’t want to go over. I pretty much use them all up every month.

Nancy: Would you recommend other people try the pilot program?

Linda: Yes. For people that might be scared you should just try it and I think you’ll like it. It might take a little bit of time but it’s worth it.

Nancy: Do you think that young people can use this option instead of The Ride?

Linda: I do because they are better with using their phones and know about apps. They probably take Lyft or Uber with their parents so they already know about it.

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I have loved watching Linda use this transportation option over the past year. I feel like she has gained hours back in her life because she doesn’t have to wait around to be picked up and dropped off. She is becoming more and more independent with using the app and takes rides whenever she wants. I hope that this pilot program becomes a permanent option for those that qualify to use it. It really is life changing. 

For more information visit the MBTA On-Demand Paratransit Pilot Program webpage.