To serve the rapidly growing portion of Americans older than 65, public transportation will incur increased operating and capital costs on the order of another $3.9 billion annually by 2030, according to a new study conducted for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
APTA released the study in recognition of May as Older Americans Month, which is designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging. Public transit systems nationwide are also highlighting their service to seniors during this month.
Public transit systems are highlighting specific services such as “how to ride the bus” classes, “Seniors Ride Free” passes and reduced fares for older riders. Transit systems will also conduct health fairs, promote senior mentor programs for first time riders and many public transit systems across the country will be encouraging seniors to increase their mobility options by using the local fixed-route transit service.
The APTA study highlights the need for an increase in operations to address the growing senior population. This includes more bus operator training, incorporating travel needs of older people in route planning and stop placement, and coordination with other agencies and transportation providers. Increased capital needs include more low-floor and kneeling buses, improved interior circulation, additional stanchions and grab bars, and other accessibility features, according to the study, Funding the Public Transportation Needs of an Aging Population.
The study was conducted for APTA by Nelson/Nygaard Consulting and with additional guidance from a working group that includes the Community Transportation Association of America, Easter Seals and AARP.
In addition, to help older people take advantage of existing services, public transportation systems will need to expand flexible route and community transportation services, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary paratransit, demand-response service, taxi subsidy programs and volunteer driver programs. Public transit systems will also need to make information more accessible, as well as expand assistance, outreach and staff training programs.
To read the full study and to see examples of local systems’ May activities in recognition of Older Americans Month visit www.apta.com.