Older Americans, not just commuters, need adequate transit options

Why do we need public transportation? To take cars off the road ... to provide commuters an alternative to sitting in gridlocked traffic and paying outrageous fuel prices ... to help improve the environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

But amid the reasons-to-support-transit discussions, one aspect often is overlooked. Our population is aging, and it's important that senior citizens have accessible, affordable transportation options. By 2030, nearly 71 million Americans will have reached age 65 or older, doubling the retirement-age population since 2000. 

That's why AARP is ramping up efforts to ensure that federal transportation funding — and the eventual surface transportation authorization legislation — "face up to the reality of an aging population," the organization said. To that end, AARP recently joined the Transportation for America Campaign, endorsing the campaign's call to renew the national transportation program.

"America is aging rapidly, and transportation policy and spending must acknowledge this demographic shift," said AARP Executive Vice President for Social Impact Nancy LeaMond in a statement. "In order to help [senior citizens] reach their goal of moving about safely into their 70s, 80s and beyond, federal, state and local policymakers need to improve the safety of roads, bridges and sidewalks, but also improve the availability and accessibility of public transportation and paratransit services."

Here's to a new transportation policy and adequate funding to support transit services for all users.

  • It is high  time that public transportation be available to rural areas as well as urban and suburban areas. And that include intercity bus and train service as well as local in-county transit services, as good as they may be still lack access to cities via connections with intercity carriers or other transit systems. New Jersey Transit is a model of what a good, statewide transit system should be. Why not have such a system in other states, such as New York. Given the aging nature of our population, the time is not far off where some people will no longer be able to safely operate a car and they will either have to hang up the keys voluntarily or have it done for them. There are far too many episodes where elderly motorists hit the gas pedal instead of the brake and ended up mowing down numbers of people in the process. Our current transportation Policiy, or pathetic excuse of one fails to take into account the nation's aging populations, not only are we no longer any spring chickens, but none of us is getting any younger and it is damn well high time for our so-called leaders to wake up and wise up. There is no need to replicate the policies of the departed Bush Adminstration, which, in my book, was and is the most worthless bunch of pea brained morons ever to take office. Norman Mineta, that pathetic excuse of a transportation secretary was the biggest moron of them all, next to George W. Bush and the rest of that bunch. We have a whole new administration and perhaps transit and rail passenger service will get the fair shake and increased investment they so richly deserve. We don't need all these cars on the road. The time for excuses is past and the time for action is now.

  • What's all this talk..."because America's baby boomers are getting older we need transit to get us older Americans around" to hear you say it ya think we are invalid or decrepit at 65 or older.

    Maybe we should be thinking so you younger irresponsible need to live in the 'burbs work in the city generation should be opting for cross state transit systems, and the like, so you don't have to spend your hard earned wages on $4 a gallon plus gas prices,(and as soon as this depression starts to swing the other way you can bet it'll be $4 gal probably more),don't you worry about us aging Americans or be coming to drop this bag of crap in our lap, instead you younger folk need to figure out how ya'll gonna get around.

    We older Americans had the convienence of low gas prices in our day. You younger folk should be jumpin' on that mobility band wagon, where you can email, do your video conferences,talk on your cell phones and text till you croak with out tryin' to operate a motor vehicle safely at the same time.

    So look at it in those terms, I don't have anything against expanding cross town or interstate or intrastate transportation efforts just so long as I don't have to pay for it.

    So don't lay it's expansion because older Americans are getting older, most of us older Americans are in better physical condition than you younger Americans,anyway.

  • James Mancuso wrote: Given the aging nature of our population, the time is not far off where some people will no longer be able to safely operate a car and they will either have to hang up the keys voluntarily or have it done for them.

    I would add that many people continue to drive when it is no longer safe for them to do so BECAUSE we don't have adequate public transport. In some towns, the leaders think a bus for the elderly that runs 2-3 times a week is enough. Not so. Nobody who is well enough to ride a bus wants to be stuck at home for days on end, unable to go anywhere because he/she doesn't have access to any transport. No wonder people continue to drive when it's unsafe for them to do so. And we can't depend on the Dept. of Motor Vehicles to get these unsafe drivers off the road, but that's a topic for another forum.

  • I can agree to the need for alternate transportation, but somewhere we need to figure out a way to have it without the cost sinkhole and extreme subsidization that exists with virtually  all existing commuter and Amtrak lines.  

  • re: Older Americans, not just commuters, need adequate transit options.

    You "agree to the need for alternate transportation" but somehow think pax rail is the only "extreme subsidization" that exists.  Well, if it moves - in the air, on the hwy, or rail, it's subsidized.  You need to do a little homework and not listen to others pontificating about subsidizing Amtrak.

  • Ok, here's a question.  It takes about 50x the funds to provide transport for older residents in the nation.  Almost literally.

    So if that is the case, to provide transport as some might suggest to rural and urban elderly totally 71 million means it would take at least 3,550,000,000 people paying taxes to transport those individuals.

    Simple fact, we as a society can NOT afford nor accomplish this task.  It's simply absurd.  Aside from that, as JamesSwidergal points out, not everyone becomes an invalid at 65.  Many people stay more than productive, but extremely productive in their older age.

    Building out public transportation for all of these people is insane.  Encouraging all of society to move closer in to urban areas, live more intelligently and less wasteful, without consuming an acre or two to plop an almost unneeded house on to exist in - that would be useful and beneficial in the pocket book.  Building out isn't going to do anybody any good.

    Just because there is a need doesn't mean we should perpetuate that need.  Sometimes, we as a society can't afford to perpetuate the need and an alternate solution must be found.

  • Adron Hall:  Just a bit of sophistry in your blog post this morning, don't you think?  That there are not 3.5 billion people in the U.S. to pay the taxes, as you put it, just might have an effect on the taxes needed and/or paid.  More significantly, the rate of taxation would have more to do with how many taxpayers would be necessary than some back-of-the-envelope calculation based on "50x" funds necessary.

    What the anti-rail, anti-transit, anti-anything crowd manages to ignore, if it even comprehends it, is that we live in an organized society.  Not all citizens pay taxes or consume government-funded services equally.  My children long have been out of the public schools, yet public schools take the largest part of my annual real estate tax payments.  There was a time when I had children in school when you could have made the argument that I was receiving more than my share of government-funded services.  The same "logic" says I now am subsidizing others.  We have representative government in this country that determines on what and how much our taxes shall be spent.  Taxes are not an abstract; they simply are the monies provided by the citizenry to pay for those government functions we collectively desire.  If you don't like paying for transportation for the elderly - or for delightful cross-country rail passenger service for the reasonably well-off, that's your right.  You are free to tell legislators your view on public policy issues.  But let's not insult others intelligence with spurious facts and sophistry.  Thanks.