Transportation Needs of an Aging Population
Posted: December 16, 2016
Change in inevitable. This stands true for Pennsylvania which has experienced shifting demographics in the past and will continue to do so in the future. These changes equate to issues that need to be addressed in our communities. One such change is that of the increase in the state’s senior (65+) population. This issue has many implications, one of which relates to transportation/mobility.
A look at data sources shows that considerations for senior transportation and mobility are essential. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, 87% of Pennsylvania seniors have a driver’s license. This is part of an upward trend in the number of licensed seniors, which rose from 1.45 million in 2005 to 1.9 million in 2015.
The availability of future transportation options and needs is also central to senior mobility issues. It is estimated that only 23% of seniors live in a municipality that has access to public transportation (bus, train etc.). (2010-14 American Community Survey)
The locations and densities of communities where seniors will be living in the future will be a factor in transportation programs, options, costs and designs. Between 2010 and 2040, the total population of seniors in Pennsylvania is projected to increase by 54.2% in rural counties, and 71.5% in urban counties (Center for Rural Pennsylvania). As indicated by these figures, agencies, organizations and individuals throughout the state will be faced with decisions on a myriad of transportation issues such as road/access design, service providers, and accessibility of various transportation modes. However, the relationship of other community and municipal actions that relate to transportation needs and impacts should not be overlooked or considered in isolation. This would include items such as land use regulations (which direct development patterns) and the location and accessibility of community facilities and various housing types.