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Teaching Older Adults About Using Public Transit

As Edmonton's population ages, public transportation keeps everyone moving

Edmonton Transit Education Programs And Tools

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

An information board about transportation options in Edmonton, Canada

Photo courtesy Edmonton Public Transit

A wall-mounted version of a Senior's Transportation Information Hub.

Within two decades, one out of three people in this western Canadian city will be at least 55 years old. To meet their transportation needs, Edmonton has created a set of interlinked pro­grams to fully utilize its accessible buses and light rail system.

Although Edmonton joined the World Health Organization Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities in 2010, the city has been a pioneer of age-friendly transit for decades. Every transit operator in the system is trained to respond to customer mobility issues and the needs of older customers.

The Details

Edmonton Transit's education programs intro­duce older adults, in some cases for the first time, to the ease of travel by public transportation. They include:

  • Mobility Choices, created in 1994, teaches new and existing customers (primarily older adults and people with mobility issues) how to use pub­lic transit. Individual and group trainings are offered. Local agencies that provide services for the aging population and people with disabilities can get "train the trainer" training.

  • Seniors On the Go, introduced in 2007, is a summer program that provides groups of older adults with fun, interactive lessons about using public transit.

  • Seniors’ Transportation Information Hubs (pictured) are wall-mounted or carousel displays that hold pamphlets about the transit system and services for older adults. The hubs are located in, among other areas, shopping malls, housing complexes and activity centers.

  • Seniors Driving and Beyond workshops provide information about mature drivers and driving options, transit options and how to plan for a person's retirement from driving.

The following free tools are also available to all:

  • Mobility Cards are used to signal to approaching buses that a passenger will need to use the ramp or kneeling feature of the bus.

  • Customer Communication Cards allow riders to, as they board a bus, discreetly request a stop announcement or inform the bus driver of balance, speech, visual or hearing difficulties.

  • Bus Hailer Kits allow riders to display their bus route number on a card as a way to signal their route needs to drivers. The cards also help people with cognitive difficulties to remember their bus numbers.

The Costs

The education programs, which are free to participants, are administered by one full-time staff member at Edmonton Transit along with a seasonal summer program coordinator. Edmonton Transit covers all costs for the trainings.

The Results

Follow-up surveys for each program show that older adults who participated in the program had achieved a greater understanding of the transit system and were more likely to use it in the future.

Says Margaret Dorey, accessible transit coordinator for the Edmonton Transit System: "Some people hadn’t used the transit system in 30 years — and now they do!"

Published August 2015

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