In 2010, nearly seven million seniors were not driving, but still needed to perform basic functions like grocery shopping and visiting friends. As the older population expands from 12 to 20 percent of the total population by 2030, there will be a new urgency for transit options.
Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options: Fixing the Mobility Crisis Threatening the Baby Boom Generation, a 2011 report by Transportation for America, examines transit services, and specifically their relationship to an aging population. It then makes policy recommendations for the federal government. Community planners and local government officials can use the report to determine how an aging population impacts their own transportation planning.
Report highlights include:
- The average annual cost of owning a vehicle ranges from $7,600-$8,700 (based on an average of $2.88 per gallon gas price, which is rising). The escalating cost of fuel, combined with the rising number of seniors and the fact that these older adults are living on a fixed income, means that alternative forms of transportation are imperative. Unfortunately, transit infrastructure is not keeping pace, meaning that an additional 3.9 million seniors will have poor transit access between 2010-2015, which is projected to increase dramatically if nothing is done.
- The report ranks and compares differing sizes of metropolitan areas with poor transit access. For example, if Atlanta does not expand its transit system, then an estimated 90 percent of all seniors will have poor transit access. In some areas, this percentage is estimated to go as high as the total senior population (100 percent).
- The report lists several city transit access case studies comparing figures from 2000 with projections for 2015, including Tulsa, Jacksonville, Burlington, Billings, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. In each case, the need for greater funding and policy change is high.