Not too long ago, semi-retired business executive Bob Carr had an extraordinary idea that took years in the making. And like most ideas, this one required continuous changes and extra fine-tuning to achieve success.
Carr’s idea led to the creation of a company—Common Courtesy Rides. The outcome has helped seniors and other adults who may be physically challenged to travel from point A to B with ease. Transport problems arise when a person cannot drive. And feelings of isolation, depression and other health issues may increase.
“Our plan is definitely working,” Carr stated, and his wife Anne and he “…couldn’t be more pleased.”
The Carrs know it’s particularly difficult getting to a doctor’s office, grocery store or even hair appointment. “In many cases,” said Carr, “the family that wants to assist may live more than 200 miles away.”
This past year, what started as an idea has really taken hold, said Carr. “It’s all about helping those with limited mobility and resources.”
At Common Courtesy, both Carr and his wife have found a way to bridge the transportation gap by using Uber and Lyft, two popular ride-sharing services. The Carr’s company is supported by specific funds, grants and open donations, which are available to their riders.
Carr said he was thinking about all the seniors in Atlanta (or anywhere, for that matter) who might be moved out of their homes (needlessly) based on urban transportation problems.
“We have to change this system,” Carr said after seeing one problem after another while driving for Uber. Carr became a driver to test his ideas.
“We initially began with volunteer drivers, but that was short-lived,” Carr said. Volunteers were not always available when needed. That’s when Carr presented his idea directly to Uber’s management in Atlanta. Later Lyft came on board with their service.
It works this way. Carr receives a donation from an organization, such as the Georgia Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA of Georgia). A client with Parkinson’s disease would complete a one-time application (including a $10 fee to register). That’s when the client becomes eligible to take rides paid for by APDA of Georgia.
The APDA funds are placed in a Common Courtesy ‘chapter account.’ The caller requesting a ride identifies their organization and the time and place for an upcoming appointment. That’s it.
One of Carr’s challenges meant inventing a way to coordinate rides remotely—for those people without smartphone technology. Rides are booked by either a phone call to the Common Courtesy call center or (if available) using smartphones. The development of a smartphone application was one of many technology hurdles Carr had to overcome.
Rides are not restricted to organizations like the APDA. The group that’s funding the ride might be from a church or any other business that wants to help. Carr’s chapters, include accounts from Atlanta Hearing Associates to Holy Innocents Episcopal Church and over 25 other groups in between.
Personal accounts are also available. For example, if a person’s grown children want to ensure their parent has transportation when needed, they, too, can create a fund.
“The feedback we receive keeps us going (as well as growing),” admitted Carr. It ranges from Sheila Gillman’s daughter who says, “My mother feels safe and so independent!” to Anita Collier who told Carr, “This program has given Steven [our disabled son] such a degree of freedom and independence—what a blessing!”
Offer them a lift…
Common Courtesy Rides is always looking for willing volunteers. To learn more about volunteering or donating, visit ccrides.org or call 678-809-2521.