A shiny, new Mercedes Metris recently drove up to the front of Newton City Hall for the maiden run of the city's new transportation option for seniors.

Newton in Motion, or NewMo, was launched with great fanfare last month. It's an on-demand shared transit system for city residents over 60, and is the first program of its kind in the state.

Phyllis Chmara, 90, couldn't wait to hop in. "This is gorgeous. What can I say? It smells like a new car," she laughed.

Like every other community, Newton is faced with an aging population. The vast majority of baby boomers want to remain in their homes, but they require transportation to meet not only their needs, but to stave off the isolation that can come with living alone.

Research released by the AARP Foundation last year found that one in five Americans 65 and older are socially isolated, and that it is a problem that receives relatively little attention and sustained focus.

Chmara lives at the Golda Meir House, which provides senior independent living. Age has not slowed her down.

"We have exercise twice a week, we have gym classes twice a week," she said, and explained the setback with the previous service Newton offered, a taxi voucher system. Rides needed to be booked one to two days in advance.

"We would go out shopping in the morning, but if we received a telephone call from a cousin or friend later in the day to have lunch, we wouldn't be able to go. Now, we'll be able to," she said.

Nicole Freedman, director of transportation planning for Newton, said NewMo is a partnership between the city and Via Transportation, a Manhattan-based transportation network company. NewMo is the company's first senior exclusive service.

"Instead of calling 72 hours ahead of schedule in real time, they can use a phone, smart phone, or go online, and the vehicle will come, on average, in 20 minutes," Freedman said.

The price for the ride ranges from 50 cents to five dollars a trip, depending on the rider's ability to pay. The four NewMo vehicles hold six passengers each and rides can be booked Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

Newton has made a three-year commitment to the project and sees NewMo eventually offering services to other age groups that might include helping kids to and from after school programs or helping employees and residents get to and from the MBTA. A NewMo user survey is planned in about six months.

Jayne Colino is the director of the Newton Department for Senior Services and was instrumental in making NewMo happen.

"If the administration decided to give me one pool of money and said you can only do one thing with it, it would be transportation," she said. Colino said other communities around the state are watching NewMo closely as the population ages.

"Transportation is one of the key, key vehicles — pun intended — for community engagement," she said.