Home Homeless Transit Autos Planning Politics Housing Printables/Misc Links Video

Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar

Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon          

“It must always be remembered how cost-effectiveness works in the public sector: the cost IS the benefit.” - author unknown

Debunking the Myths of Elderly Travel Needs

Myth One: As people age, they first lose the ability to drive; they then use public

transit if it is available; when unable to use public transit they walk, and finally,

unable to walk they use special transit services.

Although widely believed, this “progression” is largely wrong. In fact, driving is often the

easiest physical task for older people.50 Long before they lose the ability to drive, older people

may be unable to board or ride public transit, or to walk to a bus stop or train station.

Even though many may still be able to use special transit services, the overwhelming majority

of older people, regardless of their stage of disability, are able to ride in a car and choose

to do so first.

The dangerous corollary to this first myth that the elderly opt for public transit or special

transit services is that, in fact, there are few special services available, whether provided by

a transit operator or a social or human service agency. First, special transit services are only

available where there are regular transit services—which are almost nonexistent in rural

areas and very limited in suburban areas, home to more than two-thirds of the elderly. Only

14 percent of the elderly who live in rural areas report having any kind of transit services

within a half-mile. As the Community Transit Association of America (CTAA) noted:

The past two decades have seen many forms of transportation virtually abandon

rural areas. Small town residents often travel hundreds of miles just to access the

nearest airport; intercity bus service is a shell of its former self; taxi service is scant

and expensive; and passenger rail services often only streaks through the countryside

in the middle of the night.51

In 1996, CTAA found that two of five rural counties had no public transit, and

another 25 percent had service equal only to one trip per month.52

Second, even in urban areas, many elderly people do not live close to existing bus lines

and thus are ineligible by reason of geography for any special services that exist. In most

communities, special services are only available within three-fourths of a mile of existing

bus routes and only during regular bus route hours (i.e., the minimum requirements of the

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)). Although most experts suggest that one-quarter

mile is better measure of transit access for older people, in 1995, only 43 percent of the

elderly in suburban areas reported living within one-half mile of public transit.53

Third, most elderly people are ineligible for special transit services even if they live near

existing bus routes. The complementary paratransit requirements of the ADA have put a

July 2003 • The Brookings Institution Series on Transportation Reform 11

tremendous burden on most urban paratransit systems; transit systems must provide a very

high level of expensive service to those certified as ADA-eligible. In response, the overwhelming

majority of metropolitan transit operators have severely restricted eligibility for

those services. Many elderly do not qualify because their disability is not severe enough;

being unable to drive or having minor handicaps rarely qualifies one for services.54

Most communities also host many small, special paratransit services provided by nongovernmental

organizations, organizations supporting the aged, and public and private social

services agencies. However, these providers generally transport only those involved in specific

agency services and do not serve a large percentage of the elderly.55 Overall, as currently

financed and delivered, special paratransit services serve a very small proportion of a very

large population and will serve an even smaller proportion of the growing elderly population

in the future. They can serve as one part of a “family” of transportation services, but they are

not the only or even a major strategy for meeting the mobility needs of older people.56

Myth Two: Older people who drive meet their mobility needs without assistance;

those who cannot drive have substantial unmet needs.

Older people who drive still face mobility barriers. Long before they cease driving, people

begin to adjust their travel patterns to address personal limitations by, for example, not

driving at night or to congested areas. As suggested above, this self-regulation helps keep

them safer.57 However, most policy discussions fail to recognize how this behavior can negatively

affect one’s lifestyle. We currently underestimate the impact of reduced driving and

overestimate the impact of driving cessation because cessation is viewed as a single point in

time after which mobility falls drastically. In fact, long before they give up driving, older

people gradually lose mobility and independence as they gradually reduce their driving.

In a Tucson study that followed 1,300 older drivers for five years, those who ceased to

drive one year after being interviewed made substantially fewer trips after cessation than

they had in the previous year or than did those who continued to drive. The most striking

fact, however, was that those who stopped driving were already making substantially fewer

trips one year before compared with those who continued to drive, even controlling for age,

self-reported health status, and other variables.58

Myth Three: All loss of mobility skills is permanent; older people either have the

skills needed to drive, use public transit, or walk—or they do not.

In reality, the mobility needs of the elderly are complicated. Public policy discussions in

general often fail to recognize the varying abilities of older people. People may stop driving

temporarily because of a heart attack or other serious illness but begin driving again as

their health improves. Older people may need walkers and other mobility aids on some days

but not on others. They may be able to travel by conventional public transit on a sunny day

but need a ride on a rainy day. Thus, they may require differently options on different days

or in different seasons of the year.

A corollary to this myth is that people who can drive will rarely use other modes no matter

how those options are provided. This assumption reduces the incentive to focus

attention on older drivers or older people who have mobility options. Indeed, most U.S.

transit ridership among the elderly stems from those who do not drive. However, in Australia,

Europe, and Canada, elderly car drivers make up a meaningful percentage of transit

users.59 When given a reasonable set of transportation options, older people in those countries

appear to choose the best or most convenient mode for each trip.60

Thus, it may be possible to structure public transit and other services to reduce car use

among the elderly even if these options do not remove all need (or preference) for a car.

The existence of such options before an individual ceases to drive may make older people

more willing and able to use other transport options when they do stop driving.

From: Chapter IV. Debunking the Myths of Elderly Travel Needs

The Mobility Needs of Older Americans: Implications for Transportation Reauthorization

Sandra Rosenbloom1

from:  https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/20030807_Rosenbloom.pdf

(Local copy)

Also see: Survey: cars most needed of all “goods and services.

A few paragraphs From:

The Mobility Needs of Older Americans:

Implications for Transportation Reauthorization

Sandra Rosenbloom1

from: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/20030807_Rosenbloom.pdf