Several local organizations, including Atlanta Regional Commission, AARP, MAVEN and AAA Traffic Safety Foundation, hosted a transportation summit this week. The subject was the needs of transportation for older adults, persons with disabilities and non-drivers in the metro Atlanta area. However, this is sometimes more of a problem in smaller communities where seniors have to rely on friends and neighbors just for trips to the grocery store or clinic.
According to a press release from the ARC, it was reported that last year the Atlanta region ranked worst among large metro areas for access to transit for seniors. However, the situation has reportedly improved since then. Cited as improvements are volunteer driver programs, transportation vouchers, travel training on transit and community shuttles for seniors providing flexible alternatives to help non-drivers get around.
While much of the purpose of this summit was likely to encourage a “yes” vote on the T-SPLOST referendum on July 31, there is no doubt this is a problem for an aging population.
According to David Goldberg, one of the authors of “Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options,” recent research found that by 2015, more than 15.5 million Americans 65 and older will live in communities where public transportation service is poor or non-existent.
“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,” Goldberg said. “The situation is especially acute in metro Atlanta, where by 2015 an estimated 500,000 residents 65 and older will have little or no access to transit.”
Goldberg was encouraged though by the number of solutions available.
“There are as many solutions as there are communities. Communities must be creative in testing new ideas and put in place programs designed to work in their local community,” he said.
Officials are urging support of the T-SPLOST in order to help the Atlanta Metro region go from “worst to first," when it comes to helping non-drivers get around.