Tips & Facts
As Americans grow older, their lifestyles change. Transportation is a vital part in maintaining a health active lifestyle. Here are some facts older adults will want to know as they consider new transportation options.
- Americans took more than 10.1 billion trips on public transportation in 2006. This is the highest annual rate in 49 years.
- 83 percent of older Americans agree that public transit provides easy access to the things that they need in everyday life.
- From 1995 through 2006, public transportation ridership increased by 30 percent, a growth rate higher than the 12 percent increase in US population and higher than the 24 percent growth in use of the nation's highways over the same period.
- Public transportation vehicles now use alternative forms of energy such as electricity and compressed natural gas. Using these forms of energy, public transit vehicles produce 95 percent less carbon monoxide, 90 percent less volatile organic compounds, and half as much carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
- A Harris Interactive survey of Americans age 65 and older indicated that 80 percent regard public transportation as better than driving alone, especially at night.
There are many myths about the safety of riding public transportation. Public bus travel, according to the annual National Safety Council's Injury Facts study, is 26 times safer than automobile travel.
Personal security and safety have been enhanced with remote monitoring and recording of activities on board many vehicles. Cameras, silent alarms, and covert intercoms have been installed in many transit systems, according to the NCST's Technology Matrix.
Here are some other tips for older adults:
- On-demand transportation usually has to be arranged 24 hours in advance. Therefore, it may be of use to have someone already checking on you every day, just in case you have an urgent need to be somewhere.
- Consider using public transportation to go on a fun trip with friends or neighbors. Public transportation serves many museums, recreational areas, shopping districts, and attractions. Some services such as the Transit Authority of River City in Louisville, Ky., offer group transportation for older residents for shopping and recreation.
- Newer "low floor" buses allow for you to ride them without climbing up stairs. They are in use all over the country, including the Washington, D.C. Circulator bus system. Most buses in use today have pneumatic kneeling to meet you at the curb, as well as lift systems mandated in 1990. You are not required to be in a wheelchair to request use of a lift system to enter or exit a bus.
- In-home personal-care attendants (PCAs), family members, or even neighbors can be of great help in helping older Americans learn how to read schedules and route maps for public transport.
- New markets are being opened every day in public transportation, even in low-density and rural areas. If you are in such an area and require service, the department of transportation in your state, commonwealth, or territory should be of help.
- Have an evacuation plan for emergencies of any kind, particularly when it comes to the cessation of utilities for an extended period of time. The Department of Homeland Security has a checklist for evacuations, or plans for how to shelter in place if evacuation is not possible.
Visit the Frequently Asked Questions and definitions pages to learn more about transportation for older adults.