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Transportation Planning Options for Elderly Mobility Skip to content

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Transportation Planning Options for Elderly Mobility


Many of the 75 million Boomers presume that the car will always be their primary mobility option. However, as this massive group continues toageother transportation options will become necessary. This 2011 Massachusetts of Technology (MIT) thesis paper by Holly Chase explores solutions for bridging the gap in transportation options for the elderly, particularly as they relate to the “mobility attitudes and habits of baby boomers” (page 3). The paper is useful for community planners and local leaders as they seek generational solutions for an aging population and the transportation challenges associated with them.

Key Points

Less than 10 percent of all Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) feel they are equipped “to meet future elderly mobility needs” (page 18). This gap between preparedness and need will continue to increase if solutions are not found. The paper does an exceptional job of outlining Boomer needs, expectations, and transportation challenges.

Other paper highlights include:

  1. Public transit option: Though public transportation demand is expected to rise by 80 percent, as of 2001 public transportation consisted of less than two percent of transportation options. Public transit options are low on availability (few older adults have access) and low on “acceptability”, which is to state that few Boomers view it as a viable option (page 27).
  2. SilverRide option: SilverRide is a private for-profit transportation option originating in the San Francisco area. SilverRide serves over 650 clients. SocialRide scores high on availability and acceptability. The cost is significantly higher to the end user than are public transit options, though public transit options are higher for cost of infrastructure.
  3. ITNAmerica option: ITN America is a non-profit form of social entrepreneurialism that provides private transportation. There is a low annual membership fee and charges are based on time of day and mileage.
  4. Villages option: The bulk of Village funding comes from membership fees, grants and volunteers. Social capacity is high because it requires the community (i.e. the “village”) to come together in order to facilitate this type of program for the elderly. However, availability may be low and membership fees vary widely, depending on the village providing the transportation services.

How to Use

The paper is exceptional in that it helps community planners and local leaders begin to plot out and think through various future transportation options their own areas. It also provides a wealth of background information and context for understanding the challenges ahead. Finally, the paper may spark new ideas for helping to bridge the gap between existing transportation services and increasing demand.

View full report: Transportation Planning Options for Elderly Mobility (PDF – 893 KB)

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