Article by Gwen Jones, Department of Family Services
(Posted 2023 February)
Once you make the decision to give up driving, simple things like shopping for groceries, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or picking up a prescription can become complicated due to the extra step of lining up transportation. If you struggle to secure a ride or don’t want to burden friends or family, consider these options to get you where you need to go.
NV Rides coordinates a network of local volunteer driver programs that provide free transportation for older adults in Northern Virginia.
To receive a ride through the NV Rides network:
- You must be ambulatory and able to independently get in and out of a vehicle.
- No wheelchairs of any kind (even foldable) are allowed.
- You must apply and become a client of your local driving program first. Once accepted, you must give a minimum five-day notice to request a ride.
- Volunteers do not provide personal care, lift assistance, or transfer assistance.
To volunteer as a driver in the NV Rides network:
- You must be 21 and possess a valid driver’s license and car insurance.
- You must submit to a DMV and criminal background check.
- There is no minimum amount of driving required. You can pick the rides that work with your schedule.
For more information about NV Rides, to find a ride, or volunteer, visit nvrides.org or call 703-537-3071.
Participating partner programs in the NV Rides network that serve Fairfax County include:
Fairfax Village in the City
Fairfax Village in the City is a city-supported, volunteer-led program that supports Fairfax City residents aged 55 and up and adults with disabilities who want to stay independent while remaining in their homes. Volunteers provide a variety of services, including transportation to appointments. For more information, visit fairfaxva.gov/government/human-services/fairfax-village-in-the-city-advisory-board, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 703-385-5738.
Herndon Village Network
Herndon Village Network, Inc. (HVN) is a fee-based membership organization. Herndon residents aged 55 and over who reside in zip code 20170 may join HVN to request a ride to most destinations –doctor offices, stores, restaurants, and more. For more information, visit HerndonVillageNetwork.org or call 703-375-9439.
J Rides at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia
J Rides is a program of the Pozez Jewish Community Center (JCC) that offers support for older adults (55+) who no longer drive. J-Rides provides rides to the JCC or their satellite locations in Northern Virginia as well as rides to medical appointments, grocery stores, pharmacies, and other trips of necessity. Five-day notice is required, and rides are not guaranteed. For more information, visit thej.org/adult-services/j-rides or call 703-573-3074.
Mount Vernon At Home
Mount Vernon At Home is a concierge-style village, providing services, including transportation, to help older adults in their service area age in place in their homes. Members pay a yearly fee to join. To learn more, visit MountVernonatHome.org, email info@MountVernonatHome.org, or call 703-303-4060.
RCC Rides is a free transportation service for adults 55 and older who reside in the Small Tax District 5 boundaries of Reston. Volunteer drivers provide rides for trips such as medical or dental appointments, shopping, personal care, banking and more. You must apply to become a client before requesting a ride. To learn more, visit RestonCommunityCenter.com/About-Reston/rcc-Rides or call 703-390-6198.
The Shepherd Centers are a nonprofit organization sponsored by local area congregations, corporate partners, community groups, and individuals to serve adults 50 and older. The centers offer free transportation for medical appointments and non-medical needs (e.g. grocery shopping) for adults 50+ who live in their center’s service area and are able to independently get in and out of a car. Although this service is free to the client, and is not means qualified, you must apply for this service. Once accepted into the service, a request for a ride must be made five days in advance. Shepherd Centers include:
- Shepherd's Center of Annandale/Springfield
For more information, call 703-941-1419 or visit ShepherdsCenter-Annandale.org.
- Shepherd's Center of Fairfax/Burke
For more information, call 703-323-4788, visit SCFBVA.org, or email email@example.com.
- Shepherd's Center of McLean, Arlington and Falls Church
For more information, call 703-506-2199, visit SCMAFC.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Shepherd's Center of Oakton/Vienna/Dunn Loring/Reston/Herndon/Great Falls
For more information, call 703-281-0538 or visit SCNOVA.org.
- Shepherd's Center of South County
For more information, call 703-799-0505 or email SCSC-Transport@Verizon.net.
- Shepherd's Center of Western Fairfax County
For more information, call 703-246-5920 or visit SCWFC.org.
Some Shepherd Centers also offer additional services, such as Handy Helpers, to their existing clients. The Handy Helpers program may include small repairs around the home (e.g. changing lightbulbs), light yard work, or limited technology assistance. Handy Helpers does not include cooking or cleaning services. Visit the website or call individual Shepherd Centers for more information about additional services.
Transportation Options, Programs and Services (TOPS) Program
The TOPS program is administered by the Human Services Transportation Unit, part of Fairfax County’s Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. The TOPS program provides subsidies for various transportation options using a transportation debit card. Each subsidy provides $100 in benefits at a cost to the participant of $20. Program participants are eligible for a designated number of subsidies per year. Participants may use the debit card to travel in taxis, ridesharing services (Uber and Lyft), public transportation (bus and rail via SmarTrip card), and Capital Bikeshare rentals.
To be eligible, you must be a resident of Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax, or the City of Falls Church, and meet one of the following criteria:
- 50 years of age or older, with an annual income of $50,000 or less per individual.
- Registered user of MetroAccess.
- Recipient of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
- Annual income that meets the 225% federal poverty levels by household size.
For more information, visit FairfaxCounty.gov/Neighborhood-Community-Services/transportation/tops. If you have questions about TOPS, please contact Human Services Transportation Customer Service at 703-222-9764, TTY 711.
Fastran offers specialized transportation services for residents of Fairfax County and the Cities of Fairfax and Falls Church participating in human services agency programs. Services may have associated fees based on a sliding scale. Please speak with a representative of one of the certifying programs/agencies for details. All riders must be certified by one of the following programs/agencies before utilizing the service:
- Critical Medical Care – Transportation for residents who must undergo life sustaining treatments.
- Adult Day Health Care – Transportation to and from adult day health care centers.
- Community Services Board – Transportation to and from support services and worksites related to intellectual disability, mental health and the Recovery Women’s Center.
- Senior Centers – Transportation to and from Fairfax County Senior Centers.
- Senior Residences – Twice a month grocery store trips and bimonthly trips to the mall for residents of 18 senior residence developments.
- Therapeutic Recreation Services – Transportation to and from recreational activities for individuals with intellectual or physical disabilities.
For more information, visit FairfaxCounty.gov/Neighborhood-Community-Services/transportation/fastran.
This article is part of the Golden Gazette monthly newsletter which covers a variety of topics and community news concerning older adults and caregivers in Fairfax County. Are you new to the Golden Gazette? Don’t miss out on future newsletters! Subscribe to get the electronic or free printed version mailed to you. Have a suggestion for a topic? Share it in an email or call 703-324-GOLD (4653).