Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Aging in Place-Transportation Issues and Options

Remember the Beatles singing Drive My Car and in particular that one portion of the lyrics "Baby you can drive my car..."  So although I don't think the Beatles had ridesharing in mind with that song (read the rest of the lyrics), according to a recent article, ridesharing is an idea of some importance for those who no longer are able to drive. The Atlantic Cities  ran an article by Paul Supawanich on Why Ridesharing Is a Way Bigger Deal for Suburban Seniors Than Urban MillennialsThe author describes his experience with a transportation network company and suggests that these opportunities could increase the options for elders who live outside of urban areas and who don't drive.

While many urban areas provide sufficient transportation options for seniors, these choices drop precipitously in suburban and rural environments — with few alternatives, public or private, to cover an individual’s mobility needs. Existing senior transportation options in these areas are often limited in scope and inefficient to operate and manage. This is primarily a function of irregularity of senior transportation needs as compared to the rest of the commuting world. The mobility ecosystem for older adults is often a forgotten market; their trips are infrequent and mostly destined for medical appointments, grocery stores, or other widely dispersed locations.

The article notes that in the suburbs and rural areas, the transportation options are fewer, typically organization vans, paratransit, volunteers or relatives.  Even in those cities with transportation services for elders, "they may fail to provide the responsiveness, flexibility, and independence desired by a retiring Baby Boomer generation..." and the author describes the current options really as "a safety net rather than a choice."  In addition, these types of programs tend to be expensive and take a significant amount of time.

This is not a "one size fits all issue" though, and it may be harder to recruit and retain drivers for various reasons, including whether there would be the same earnings opportunities.  The article is one in a series on the Future of Transportation.  The article mentions a report by Transportation for America, Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options:  Fixing the Mobility Crisis Threatening the Baby Boom Generation.

Thanks to my colleague, Professor Mark Bauer (current chair of the AALS Aging & Law section) for sending this to me!


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