Baltimore ranks near middle in senior transit access
Baltimore ranks just about in the middle of its class in the percentage of its older population with poo access to transit services, according to a new report issued by the advocacy group Transportation for America.
Out of 46 metropolitan areas with populations of 1-3 million, Baltimore ranked 25th on a list in which a lower ranking was better. The group found that 53 percent of Baltimore-area residents aged 65 to 79 are expected to have poor access to transit in 2015.
While the ranking wasn't stellar, it wasn't close to the worst in the rankings. That dubious distinction went to Kansas City, where 88 percent of the population in that age group had no good alternatives to private cars. The best metropolitan area for transit access for the elderly was No. 46 San Francisco, where only 12 percent of those 65-79 had poor transit access.
The report, called "Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options," contends that many Baby Boom generation retires face a future of increasing isolation and decreased mobility because of a lack of alternatives to increasingly expensive private vehicles.
The report found that only about 5 percent of Americans move upon retirement and that most decided to "age in place" in their neighborhoods.
The report outlines an increasing demand for transit services among elderly Americans, who took about 667 million transit rides in 2001 and more than 1 billion in 2009. But the report found that only 21 percent of older Americans live in central cities, where transit lines tend to be more accessible, while 56 percent live in the suburbs and 23 percent in rural areas.
According to the research, more than 20 percent of Americans over 65 do not drive. It found that mean who stop driving in their 70s tend to need transportation services for another six years, while women who give up driving need 10 years of help in getting around.
The report concludes:
By 2015, the number of seniors with poor transit access will have increased by 35 percent since 2000, from 11.5 to 15.5 million in the metro areas analyzed in this report. Without action to improve transportation services, that number will continue to grow well beyond 2030, when the last of the baby boomers turns 65. To address
the mobility needs of seniors, communities, local elected officials and planners must confront the assumption that people would always be able to rely on the automobile as their primary mode of transport. Congress, likewise, must provide
leadership and enact a robust reauthorization of the nation’s surface transportation law that addresses these needs.