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Attracting Senior Drivers to Public Transportation: Issues and Concerns (2010)


By the year 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be age 65 or older. As senior adults continue toage, physical abilities necessary for safe driving such as strength, vision, reaction time, and short-term memory begin to deteriorate, making driving alternatives like public transit incredibly important. The Federal Transportation Administration released this report to help public transit agencies attract senior drivers to public transportation, examine the opportunities and challenges faced by both seniors and transit agencies, and offer successful strategies and recommendations for increasing public transit ridership among seniors.

Key Points

Seniors often perceive driving as a means to remain independent in their homes and communities and stay connected to society. According to the report, nearly 80 percent of older adults said they would use public transportation if transit services were safe, convenient, and easily accessible. One of the major obstacles to increasing public transit use among seniors is a lack of information. The report offers marketing strategies to reach seniors and raise awareness of specialized services for senior riders by providing information through websites, presentations at senior facilities, or brochures, among other things. Case studies are provided throughout the report to determine the most effective programs to attract seniors to public transportation.

Efforts designed to attract older adults to public transit:

  1. Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount Card Program: In the San Francisco Bay Area, RTC discount cards make it easier for seniors age 65 and older to demonstrate eligibility for discounted fares on all fixed-route transit, bus, rail and ferry systems.
  2. Travel training programs: Use experienced senior riders as travel trainers for other older adults to help new riders better understand route information and alleviate negative misconceptions about public transit.
  3. RIPTA I-95 discount program: The Rhode Island Public Transportation Agency created a program that offers a fare discount to anyone who travels through the I-95 construction area. This program is intended to attract older drivers who may still be able to drive safely but often become more aggravated with heavily congested traffic areas.

How to Use

Planners, local officials, policymakers, and public transit agencies can use this report to gain an understanding of the best strategies to raise awareness of public transit services to seniors in their communities. The case studies and recommendations provided throughout the report can be used as resources for creating programs designed to increase transit ridership among seniors. This report is an excellent resource for any community looking toreduce the number of senior drivers, increase seniors’ use of public transit systems, and help seniors maintain their independence as they age.

View full report: Attracting Senior Drivers to Public Transportation: Issues and Concerns (2010) (PDF – 3.1 MB)

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