As the first truly suburban generation baby boomers may face significant transportation challenges as they age according to a new study conducted by Transportation for America. The group found that tomorrow’s seniors are much more likely to live in suburban communities with fewer public transportation options making access to transportation an emerging issue for older Americans.
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Only 5% of American’s move after the age of 55, meaning the place where someone is living while still in the workplace is likely to be their same residence well into retirement. While suburban living isn’t a challenge now for many boomers, it may likely become one when they are no longer able to drive.
What this means is that suburban communities must have the resources now in order to begin preparing for the needs of their communities a decade from now. The Transportation for America report also called on federal and state lawmakers to:
- Increase funding to communities looking to improve and expand public transit services.
- Involve seniors and community stakeholders in the transit development process so that the needs of older adults can be addressed.
- Maintain flexibility for states to use a portion of highway funds for transit projects.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area was profiled in the report which found that 64% of suburban seniors in the metro area have poor access to public transportation. The study projected that number will increase to 69% by 2015. Altogether, the number of Minnesota seniors with “poor” access to transportation is projected to increase by nearly 100,000 over the next 4 years.
Not all of the news was bad for Minnesota, however.
The study showed the state’s existing public transportation infrastructure is better than most other parts of the country. Minneapolis-St. Paul ranked 16th best in access to transportation for a major metro area and Rochester was 3rd among cities of less than 250,000 with Duluth and Moorhead also ranking high.