Getting Around and Other Transportation Issues
Making your way from Point A to Point B can present challenges for even the most mobile, but add in being a senior and have limited resources, and the issue of transportation increases in difficulty.
Transportation of America estimates that in two years’ time, 15 million Americans over the age of 65 will have poor access to transit, with transit systems not being efficient or available enough to service seniors. For a 35-year-old adult to walk a quarter- or half-mile to a bus or subway stop isn’t much effort, but asking a senior to do the same is tantamount to impossible.
Add in the fact that despite Americans move an average of a dozen times in their lifetimes, seniors are the least likely to do so, preferring to “age in place.” Instead, they’re probably likely to continue driving, as they’ve done so for most of their lives, and despite fuel costs constantly rising. Driving themselves may be more expensive, but it’s also more convenient, more efficient, and faster. And for some trips, driving can actually work out cheaper than taking public transit.
Privatization of transit companies, like Megabus and Intercity, often results in lower transportation costs because competition is fierce, and companies lower their prices to attract customers. For example, Megabus frequently advertises $1 fares, making trips between cities far more affordable than driving could ever be. Taking Megabus from Toronto to Buffalo is an oft-used mode of transportation for Canadians looking to escape exorbitantly high airport fees, making flying a low-cost and attractive option for seniors who can save as much as half the total cost. And Intercity, a collection of privately-owned buses that travel between cities, carry about three times as many passenger miles as Amtrak, offering service that is cheaper and faster.
Transportation needs to improve for seniors; that’s a necessary fact, not an option. Transportation for America has found that without affordable, easy-to-access transportation, seniors who are over 65 and don’t drive make 15% fewer trips to the doctor, 59% fewer trips to shop or eat out, and 65% fewer trips to visit family and friends (as compared with drivers of the same age.) Making their way around to appointments and outings is little problem for seniors who live in densely populated areas like New York or Chicago, but can be quite difficult for seniors in suburban or rural areas.
But what should be expected to change- where seniors live, or the transit available to them?