The incremental costs of providing public transportation to meet the real needs of seniors in America today is projected to be $4.2 billion in 2010, according to this report prepared by a consulting firm for the American Public Transportation Association. Moreover, the report projects that figure to almost double to $7.4 billion by 2030. The report examines a range of actions that are necessary to make sure public transportation options are available for older Americans, and presents cost estimates for each.
The report was conducted to determine the national estimate for the costs over the next 20 years of providing “transportation independence” to older Americans. The methodology included data from 27 “model programs” so noted for the level of quality and types of data needed. “Data was requested from the model programs about the ages of their riders, and this data was used to calculate trip rates for each subgroup of older people for each type of service. These trip rates were then applied nationwide to obtain national estimates of needed trips for each age group in 2010” (page 7). The research is not meant to be definitive and only “begins to define and quantify the public transportation needs of older people” (page 10).
Other report highlights include:
- Those areas constituting public transportation needs are identified by supplemental services and enhancements to conventional transit services, including those provided by ADA paratransit. Supplemental services include volunteer drivers, taxis, caregiver transportation and medical transportation.
- The report then conducts a cost analysis of those services per trip and compares those to growth estimates in the older age categories.
- “An AARP survey of Americans over 50 found that almost 40% of those polled reported inadequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods, while 55% do not have bike lanes or paths, and 48% say there is not a comfortable place to wait for the bus. Most sobering, almost half (47%) of poll responders say they cannot cross the main roads in their community safely” (page 40). The report then goes on to estimate fixes or repairs and lists sourcing appropriately.
How to Use
Community planners and local governments can use this report to better understand and scope the needs and costs related to providing adequate transportation options for older residents. Though these costs are estimations, and not adjusted for one’s own locality, it does provide a good starting point for examining what public transportation services are required for seniors, and where to invest. The report provides a pragmatic resource for planners to gauge their own local public transportation infrastructure cost estimates with regard to the creation of livable communities.