HAROLD

He stopped driving about five years ago. It turns out he was getting a little older. There were signals, like his reflexes not being as quick as they once were, or thinking he knew how far away something was and didn’t. And then there were the ones that took his breath away, like “Whoa, that was a close call.” After two or three of those, he said it was time.

It’s hard to give up driving when you don’t know how you’re going to get around. Harold lives in an apartment building for seniors, but is an active person. He couldn’t imagine being stuck in that building, with those same people every day—nice building, nice people, nice surroundings, but he likes getting out. He likes to go down to the symphony or to Butler University for talks, but it’s very hard to get there and back using public transportation. Even worse, IndyGo doesn’t run late enough for the socializing and fun after events. That’s the part that’s exhilarating.

Harold use IndyGo’s Open Door paratransit service, which provides door-to-door service for people with disabilities. As a senior, he has had his shoulder and both hips replaced. If somebody knocks him down or he stumbles and falls … He can’t walk to a bus stop or stand there waiting for the bus. Harold's reality is that if he has to get to the hospital, he has no way to get there other than to wait for the ambulance.

A lack of mobility affects sociability; it affects entertainment. He needs to be mobile to connect to the institutions he values—cultural, social, religious and economic. When he owned a car, it was a way for me to remain viable in the community. Then one gets older and can no longer drive because of physical limitations and chronic conditions, which is a very hard pill to swallow. He didn't want to give up driving because he knew transportation is poor. Relatives and friends aren't always available when he needs them. He is grateful when someone helps out, but in the end, the enormity of his dependence on others produces stress.

Not having access to transportation is also a barrier to companionship. Harold has lost the people that he spent his life with, who loved him. Before he found Open Door, he just wanted to find an escape, to go back to New York or somewhere else in the world where he could be self-reliant.

Transit Drives Indy is dedicated to supporting transit development in the city of Indianapolis.

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