The National Academies

TCRP B-19 [Completed]

Improving Public Transportation Options for Older Persons

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Westat, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Jon Burkhardt
Effective Date: 10/4/1999
Completion Date: 5/12/2002

Persons age 65 and older are the fastest-growing segment of our population, led by a steady surge in the ranks of people age 85 and older. It is estimated that by 2030, one in five persons in the United States will be 65 years and older. National data and research on actual travel patterns show that a disproportionately large number of older persons experience immobility and social isolation. These problems are expected to grow with the number of older persons in the United States.

As people age, their mobility may become limited, when driving skills decline. Today, at least 9.7 million older persons do not drive and many with licenses have limited mobility. Reducing or stopping driving is a very difficult decision for older persons because many equate automobile travel with independence. Mobility challenges will be exacerbated as unprecedented numbers of people "age in place" in suburbs where using transit and walking are either impractical or impossible. Today, roughly 44 percent of older persons live in suburbs, 30 percent live in central cities, and 26 percent live in rural areas. It is, therefore, very important that effective alternatives to the automobile are available for older persons throughout the United States.

This research project will examine the population of interest in detail; identify barriers to mobility and methods to overcome them; detail best practices from transportation programs designed to improve travel opportunities for older persons; and identify further innovations.

The objective of this project is to prepare a workbook for transportation providers and planners that presents exemplary transportation services and proposes innovative transportation alternatives to enable older persons in the United States to maintain their independence.

Status: The project is completed and the final report has been published as TCRP Report 82.

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