Provide Affordable and Accessible Transportation Options
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Why are accessible, affordable transportation options important for older adults?
Older adults who wish to age in place must be able to meet their daily needs outside the home even if they cannot or choose not to drive. A range of safe, affordable, and accessible transportation options are essential for older adults to run errands, go to the doctor, or visit friends and family. Without such options, an older adult might have to either prematurely move to a supported housing arrangement to access transportation services or become increasingly dependent on family and friends for assistance.
What transportation challenges do older adults face?
Older adults today face a variety of transportation challenges that can be grouped into the four following categories:
Land-use policies that create auto-dependent communities- Since the 1950s, conventional zoning has segregated many residential communities from employment, schools, and shopping districts, making the private automobile one of the easiest and most efficient ways to get from place to place. Yet, one in five adults 65 and older does not drive.  For anyone living in an auto-reliant community, choosing not to drive can be associated with a dramatic lifestyle change and can produce feelings of dependence and isolation. Click here to leave this section of the site and learn more about the connections between land-use, transportation, and housing policy.
Poor pedestrian infrastructure - Many communities have poor pedestrian infrastructure, making walking an unsafe means of getting around. A survey of older adults indicates that almost 40 percent of respondents do not have adequate sidewalks near their homes, and nearly 47 percent cannot safely cross their community's main roads. 
Subpar public transportation options- A survey found that 60 percent of older adults do not live within a 10-minute walk of public transportation.  Poor access to public transportation is even more pronounced in rural communities where 30 percent of all households include at least one member age 65 or older.  In communities that do
View presentations and other resources from the session, Transportation Policy and Location-Efficient Development for an Aging Country, held at the Solutions for Sustainable Communities learning conference. Click here to access these materials.
have public transit systems, many older adults have expressed dissatisfaction with their options. One survey found that 38 percent of respondents with access to public transportation gave it a grade of D or F for reliability.  Additionally, many bus and train routes are designed to connect commuters to employment centers during rush hour but do not accommodate different destinations and time-frames that retirees and non-workers may find desirable. And many of the physical limitations that make driving difficult can also complicate accessing current forms of public transportation (e.g., getting on and off buses). 
High cost of housing near transit- Where public transit is reliable, accessible, and in-demand, housing costs can be out of reach for both renters and owners with low or moderate incomes. According to one estimate, the demand for housing near transit is likely to more than double by 2025 as a result of changing demographics and housing preferences.  Because prices typically rise with demand, it will be increasingly important for communities to ensure that affordable housing options are available for low- and moderate-income households in these desirable locations.
How can these transportation challenges be met?
Two complementary approaches can be pursued to overcome these transportation challenges. First, communities can improve and expand existing transit service and develop additional transportation programs to accommodate those with special needs. Second, policymakers can coordinate housing, transportation, and land-use policies to promote the development of walkable, transit-oriented communities that allow older adults to live near public transit stops and essential services.
Click here to learn more about how special transit services and the coordination of housing, transportation, and land-use policies can help meet the transportation needs of older adults
Go back to learn about other tools that help improve access to social services and transportation options