How I Get Around Without a Car
Last updated: September 2023
On December 23, 2021, I came to a stop at a familiar intersection near my home. But my attempt to make a right turn was met with considerable resistance. I turned off the car, clambored out, and eyeballed the front end. I could see where the frame totally rusted through and broke in half, meaning it was unfixable.
Resilience from life with MS
After calling AAA roadside assistance, I chatted with a policeman who had pulled up behind me. Quiet and mild-mannered, the sergeant stayed with me while I waited for the tow truck. I was chatty and in good spirits, as I usually am. I pulled my cane out of the car and explained that I was an MS patient advocate, lived alone, and loved my life. Losing my wheels was not all that stress-worthy, compared to some events in my past. His reaction was one of admiration. He praised my positive, can-do attitude.
He offered to drive me to my apartment, so with the tow truck bringing up the rear, we made our way the three or four blocks to my apartment. Both the tow truck driver and police sergeant offered to help unload my personal items from the trunk. They only left after making sure everything was taken care of.
Losing my transportation
I then called CARS4CASH, handed the driver my title and key, and he handed me $415 USD. Quick, easy, done in a flash. Still, I felt a bit blind-sided by this sudden turn of events. After 20 years of nursing that car along, I convinced myself it’d stay road worthy until I could afford to replace it.
However, extensive research revealed a different reality, one that showed how even the oldest car with the most mileage was beyond what I could afford. Inflation and the pandemic were actors in boosting the prices and deals offered. It was first time in decades that I was without a car, and it would be years before I could afford another, if ever. Now I had to figure out a plan to take care of things without having wheels.
How I manage without a car
It's been easier than I thought! I am very lucky to have several different options.
First off, I called my county Department on Aging Transportation Services to get rides to medical appointments and tests. This is a free and wonderful resource for seniors age 60 and older. The only downside is that they have no budget for side trips such as grocery or pharmacy shopping, and errands such as banking. It made sense to get as much accomplished as possible during one trip, and I was offered an instant solution!
I live in a retirement community where I am friends with many of my neighbors. One neighbor offers to take me where I need to go, while another hands me the key to her car and lets me drive myself. Both situations are much appreciated. I have been driving myself to my twice-weekly physical therapy and speech therapy appointments for the last two months. When I do, I make sure to shop and run errands to conserve time and expense, as well as pump gas each week to cover my usage. Now that physical therapy is ending, my need for wheels will be less frequent.
Creative transportation solutions
Are you without a car? Here are solutions to check out.
- Your county’s Department of Health and Human Services. Look for the Department on Aging and add the number to your phone contacts. Mine wants our requests to be made 2 weeks in advance of the appointment date, but they have consistently scheduled a driver for me even when I give less than a 2-week notice.
- Your area’s self-pay transportation services such as Lyft, Uber, municipal buses and trains, Dial-a-Ride, Cabify, Turo, and Blacklane, among others.
- Loved ones, friends, and neighbors who are available to take you shopping, etc. And those who can hand you the keys to their vehicle when you need it.
- Your city/county might have other transportation options for disabled patients who use wheelchairs. Restrictions may prevent the driver from physically assisting patients. Always call and ask when contacting a local agency.
Nearly two years after my car broke apart at that stop sign, I'm still years away from owning my own car again. Armed with several options, though, I feel no stress at all about my transportation needs in the near future.
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