Central Indiana’s aging population is predicted to swell in the next twenty years as the baby boomers reach their 60’s and 70’s and beyond. Yet we are not preparing to handle the increased demand this growing population will have on public transportation. Over twenty-five percent (25%) of those in central Indiana seniors age 65 and over do not drive and many curtail their driving as physical limitations occur. Seniors need public transportation to maintain healthy and active lifestyles.
Countless articles, research projects, and studies confirm that getting out of the house for more than the basic needs – doctor appointments, hospital stays, and groceries – impacts good health and wellness. Social and civic engagement by the older population may be as important for fitness and health as a visit to the doctor.
Currently most senior transportation programs link older persons, especially the most vulnerable, only to health and needed social services. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) found that without adequate resources that include transportation for socialization, older people face isolation, depression and poor health outcomes. When this happens, society bares the cost and the community stands to lose the contributions that older adults can offer.
CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions is an advocate for public transportation that enhances and sustains the independence, dignity and quality of life for older adults and those of any age with a disability.
Characteristics of a transportation system that meets these criteria:
- easy and inviting to use (user-friendly)
- accommodates declining physical conditions (slower gaits and walking devices)
- facilitates social and civic engagement (trips for socialization and volunteering)
- provides transportation options (bus, train, car, shuttles)
- inexpensive (fixed income clients)
- inclusive of rural areas (connects the rural areas to the city)
- safe and secure (crime and accident free)
CICOA urges central Indiana citizens to advocate for a public transportation system that accommodates the needs of all citizens with emphasis on including the elderly and disabled. Advocacy, such as letters, emails, phone calls, and petitions should be directed towards federal and state legislators, local government officials, the Indianapolis Regional Transportation Council (IRTC), and the federal transportation department. A system must be designed to support and enhance quality of life in addition to meeting basic needs.