Video: Transportation Solutions for Aging in Auto-Centric America

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Stephanie writes the column "Age'n Community" on planning for the urban and senior population boom.
December 19, 2013

The vast majority of us will outlive our driving years by about a decade. That means we’ll need to rely on a variety of transportation services to help us get around.

While 42 percent of area agencies on aging offer older drivers safety training so that we can stay on the road longer, fewer than 4 percent of area agencies on aging in the U.S. provide travel training services that help older adults transition from driving to learning how to get around without a car.

These services would provide great benefits to seniors and their families, and they can save money overall for communities. Understanding how to improve personal mobility is crucial for older adults. Retired drivers take 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer shopping trips, and 65 percent fewer trips for family, religious, and other social reasons.

Here and Here to Stay LogoIn this video, the few agencies that provide these services in the D.C./Virginia/Maryland region – including Montgomery County’s Jewish Council for the Aging and Medical Transportation Management, Inc. in Washington D.C. – are spotlighted. Representatives discuss how communities, transportation agencies, and the public can handle this issue, and all the reasons why older people can improve the quality of their lives and their sense of independence by learning about and using public transportation.

This issue is even more important as, according to AARP, more than 20 percent of Americans age 65 and older don’t drive at all, and the massive amount of retiring Boomers will greatly increase that percentage.

You can read much more about the issue here, and you can try to get public transportation travel training where you live by contacting your local transit agency, your local eldercare locator, or Mobility Lab.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

avatar Katherine Freund December 23, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Founder and President at ITNAmerica

Hello Mobility Lab,
This is the first time I am commenting, though I have been following along for awhile. Senior transportation is my field, so I’d like to share a little information and a few links. Travel training is an excellent idea because it improves mobility for older people and makes better use of transportation resources. But it is important to realize that is a relatively small part of the overall transportation picture for older Americans, since only about 2% of all trips for the over 65 population are taken on public transportation of any kind. Almost 90% of trip are taken in the private automobile, either as a driver or a passenger, and 8% of trips are walking. More than half of people over 65 live in communities with no public transport, and 2 out of 3 live in rural and suburban communities that lack the density for traditional mass transit solutions. Finally, there is the critical issue of resources. According to the Surface Transportation Policy Project, private household expenditures for transportation out number public expenditures 5 to 1. Americans voluntarily spend about 21% of their annual household income on transportation, second only to housing. As the population ages, it will be absolutely necessary to find ways to access this private transportation capacity, through ride sharing, car sharing and volunteer transport, to help older people age in place, with or without publicly funded transportation solutions. These newer members/modes of the transportation family hold great promise for tomorrow.

For those following senior transportation, you may be interested to know the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on senior transportation November 6, 2013. The video and testimony are available on C-Span at:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/CitizenT

There is also a new national toll free hot line available, Rides In Sight, specializing in transportation for seniors and people with visual impairment. In March 2014, the national database will be available to the public and searchable on-line. Here’s the link:

http://www.ridesinsight.org/

I hope this information is helpful. Happy holidays, everyone.

Katherine Freund

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