Ensuring the Mobility of Baby Boomers

3 Dec

When thinking about transportation options, it’s easy to forget about the people who don’t have access to cars and/or aren’t able to drive. Senior citizens are a frequently-overlooked sector of society when transportation and land use options are being considered. But with aging Baby Boomers, the importance of ensuring that senior citizens can get where they need to go is an issue of increasing importance. Senior citizens are more likely to have mobility issues than are younger age cohorts, and as a result, they are more likely to be transit-dependent. The data trends related to the mobility challenges posted by our aging society is examined in a new study by the AARP Public Policy Institute, which points out that at current rates, by 2030, there will be 15 million non-drivers over the age of 65. The study, “Impact of Baby Boomers on U.S. Travel, 1969 to 2009,” finds some interesting trends, including:

  • Declining vehicle miles traveled for all populations, even the boomer population, which has “traditionally traveled more than their counterparts in other age groups”;
  • As the boomer population ages, the per capita number of boomer transit trips it takes has increased;
  • Travel to medical services has significantly increased and is expected to continue to increase.

It is our hope that AARP’s report recommendations will encourage a transportation and land use network that provides access for all. We have known for a long time that lack of transportation options can have a profound effect on the health and wellbeing of seniors (and others). According to a 2003 Brookings Institution study, nearly 80 percent of our seniors live in car-dependent suburban and rural communities.  Half our non-driving seniors stay home on any given day because they have no public transit options. Non-driving seniors make fewer trips to the doctor, fewer visits to friends and family, and fewer trips to stores and restaurants. Seniors who stop driving show more symptoms of depression and are less active outside the home.

Getting Seniors Around Safely With GMTMA

Here on the ground, Greater Mercer TMA is doing its part.

  • RIDE PROVIDE: RideProvide is Greater Mercer TMA’s transportation program for seniors and visually impaired adults in Mercer County and Plainsboro, NJ. We provide door-to-door transportation in private vehicles, Monday through Friday, within our service area. RideProvide offers a safe and dependable transportation option for those who don’t drive or choose to no longer drive. Click here for more information.
  • MOBILITY GUIDE: We also have a new Mercer County Mobility Guide, a “how to” handbook for traveling around Mercer County. It is available for download by clicking here. For the Spanish version click here .
  • TRAVEL TRAINING. We offer  free travel training instruction to senior citizens and inexperienced transit users on how to use public transit. Group instruction, along with planned trips on local transit are offered at senior centers and senior housing locations.
  • PEDESTRIAN SAFETY PROGRAMS: GMTMA also offers a free pedestrian safety program geared specifically to older adults at senior centers, senior housing and other community facilities. The program helps seniors identify the situations that pose the greatest risk for injury and how to become defensive walkers.

For more information on our senior programs or to schedule programs for your group please contact us at 609 452-1491 or send us an email at tma@gmtma.org.

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