By 2015, more than 15.5 million Americans 65 and older will live in communities where public transportation service is poor or non-existent, a new study shows. That number is expected to continue to grow rapidly as the Baby Boom generation “ages in place” in suburbs and exurbs with few mobility options for those who do not drive.
The report, Aging in Place, Stuck without Options, ranks metro areas by the percentage of seniors with poor access to public transportation, now and in the coming years. The analysis by the Center for Neighborhood Technology evaluates metro areas within each of five size categories. It shows that in just four years, 90% of seniors in metro Atlanta will live in neighborhoods with poor access to options other than driving, the worst ranking among metro areas with populations over 3 million. In smaller areas like Hamilton, Ohio, 100% of seniors will have poor access to public transportation.
“The Baby Boom generation grew up and reared their own children in communities that, for the first time in human history, were built on the assumption that everyone would be able to drive an automobile,” said John Robert Smith, president and chief executive officer of Reconnecting America and co-chair of Transportation for America. “What happens when people in this largest generation ever, with the longest predicted lifespan ever, outlive their ability to drive for everything? That’s one of the questions we set out to answer in this report.”
The research shows that without access to affordable travel options, seniors age 65 and older who no longer drive make 15% fewer trips to the doctor, 59% fewer trips to shop or eat out and 65% fewer trips to visit friends and family, than drivers of the same age.