According to the 2013 Census, 44.7 million people in the United States were 65 years or older. By 2030, one-fifth of the population will be in this age category, which is projected to surge to 74 million people, an increase of 69 percent. This dramatic increase in older Americans means that communities will need to provide more public transportation services for their older residents.
“It is essential that our leaders and policy makers address the needs of older citizens, a demographic that is expected to increase to nearly 74 million by 2030,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “As increasing numbers of Americans age, Americans will not only want, but also need, public transportation services in their local communities to maintain their lifestyle. A community that has a good public transportation system can help their citizens live their lives to the fullest. ”
At the invitation of the White House, Melaniphy will attend the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, which will be held on Monday, July 13 at the White House. Held every ten years, the purpose of this conference is to facilitate discussion among national leaders on the challenges facing older Americans and the policies that should be implemented for this growing segment of our population.
“As people age, they may choose to not drive as much or not drive at all. Consequently, as the number of older Americans grows, so too will the demand for expanded and enhanced public transit services both on the operational level and the design level,” said Melaniphy, who noted that the Baby Boomer Generation is the second largest generation in the United States and the first Baby Boomers turned 65 years old in 2011.
A 2010 APTA report titled Funding the Public Transportation Needs of an Aging Population details a number of actions that need to be implemented to accommodate older riders. Examples include enhancements to fixed route public transportation operations and planning, as well as expansion of supplementary services such as flexible route, community transportation services, and paratransit services.
Improving public transportation for this wave of new older riders will add considerable expense to public transit systems. This same report stated that on a national level, operation and capital expenses for improving public transportation for older Americans would grow from approximately $4.8 billion in 2010 to $8.6 billion in 2030.
“Now is the time to discuss what needs to be done for our country’s aging population in the near and long-term future,” said Melaniphy. “It is critical that Congress act this year on a long-term, well-funded surface transportation bill that will fund public transportation to meet the growing demand, not just for older Americans, but for all Americans."
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.