Scholars, Industry Leaders Meet to Evaluate Mobility Solutions for an Aging America
WASHINGTON, DC (April 14, 2005) - William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), today called for increased investment for public transportation and mobility options to benefit older Americans. At a conference held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Millar communicated the urgent need for the country to provide public transportation and to address changes in community planning and design to help older Americans maintain their mobility and independence.
The conference, Transportation Solutions for an Aging Society, is one of a series of meetings leading up to the White House Conference on Aging to be held in October 2005. It was co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and AARP, along with MIT.
"The growing need for transportation options for older Americans is at a critical juncture," Millar said. "This is no longer just a personal or family issue; it is now an increasingly urgent national challenge.
"The public transportation industry applauds DOT, AAR, and MIT for hosting this important conference because how we address the mobility options of older Americans as a nation will have significant ramifications for all Americans," he said.
Millar participated on a distinguished panel of experts that discussed livable communities and personal choice. He represented the public transportation industry and the efforts it is making to increase transportation choices for Americans today and as they age.
"Transit systems across the country have recognized the need to provide appropriate public transportation for all Americans, including older adults who choose not to drive or who can no longer drive safely," Millar stated. "Simply put, public transportation is the lifeline for many older Americans. The mobility needs of this population are increasing rapidly, and the transit industry is responding. But we can, and must, do more. Investment and planning are key."
Noting that more than one in five Americans age 65 and older do not drive, Millar said millions of citizens are no longer able to participate in their communities, access regular health services, or remain independent. "This is a quality of life issue with real social and economic implications for every community," he said.
Millar provided highlights from a new policy paper released at the conference today by APTA on ways transit agencies are working to enhance the mobility options and positively affect lifestyles of America's older adults. The report calls for federal policy and funding initiatives to make public transportation more available and thus, communities more accessible for America's older citizens. Some of the report's recommendations include:
Increase federal investment in public transportation to improve mobility for older adults;
A more fully integrated planning process including coordination with community-based organizations, as well as with human services and government-sponsored transportation programs;
As part of the reauthorization of the Older American's Act, funding should be allocated for research and demonstrate projects that can create public transportation services and pedestrian-friendly environments for older adults, particularly in suburban and rural areas that may not currently offer convenient alternatives to driving; and
- Reauthorization of the Older American's Act should create a new Incentive Grant Program to expand senior transportation by funding community design initiatives that make shopping, entertainment and essential services more easily accessible.
"Mobility for older adults must be recognized as a priority public policy issue," Millar said. "Increased investment, training and communication are vital to making public transportation a viable option for our aging citizens and for all Americans."
For a copy of the report or to learn more about the public transportation industry's services for older Americans, please visit www.apta.com. Also for more information on the White House Conference on Aging go to www.whcoa.gov.