By Maria Saporta
The Transportation for America, a coalition that promotes smarter transportation investment, has ranked Atlanta as the worst metro area in providing seniors access to mass transit.
Such a ranking is especially devastating for metro Atlanta — a region that is projecting a dramatic increase in senior citizens.
The report — “Aging in Place, Stuck without Options” — determined that the majority of the nation’s metro areas with a population of more than 1 million people provided seniors with poor access to transit.
The number of senior citizens with poor access to transit will continue to grow as the baby boom generation continues to get older.
“While some aging baby boomers and empty nesters have been moving from suburbs to downtowns, the vast majority of older Americans continue to reside in car-dependent suburban and rural communities,” the report stated.
“Inevitably, their ability to navigate these communities by vehicle will diminish or disappear over time, and millions of older adults will need transportation alternatives in order to maintain their independence,” the report continued.
The Urban Land Institute, in its Urban Land publication, reported on the Transportation for America’s ranking and determined that was a wide variation of metro areas providing seniors with access to transit.
The study defined seniors as people aged 65 to 79. And poor access was defined people having fewer than two bus, rail or ferry routes within walking distance of their home.
“Not surprisingly, the metros offering the best transit access for seniors are typically larger, coastal metropolises with larger transit systems, such as New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.,” the report stated.
“The worst metropolitan areas for seniors’ transit mobility tend to be more inland, with stagnant or shrinking bus systems,” the report continued. “Interestingly, the 11 worst metros include several places with rail systems, such as Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville, suggesting their systems may be too small.”
The finding of this report comes at a particularly significant time for metro Atlanta. Currently, the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable is considering a draft list of transportation projects that would be implemented if voters approve a one-cent regional sales tax next year.
The draft project list would invest 55 percent of the revenue in transit projects and 45 percent in road projects.
The Urban Land Institute said that the metro areas that rank the worst for seniors’ access to transit offers an opportunity for its members and real estate professionals. It stated that those metro areas could be “ripe” for senior housing projects that are part of a transit-oriented development with bus or rail stops.
The 11 worst metro areas for seniors’ having access to transit are:
1. Atlanta. In 2015, it is projected that the region will have 503,543 people between the ages of 65 to 79. Ninety percent of that population would have “poor transit access” in 2015.
2. Kansas City. Senior population in 2015: 230,023 with 88 percent with poor transit access.
3. Oklahoma City. senior population: 136,571; poor transit access: 86 percent.
4. Nashville. senior population: 151,995; poor transit access: 85 percent.
5. Raleigh-Durham. senior population: 127,931; poor transit access: 80 percent.
6. Indianapolis. 181,073; 79 percent.
7. Charlotte. 170,815; 79 percent (a tie).
8. Jacksonville. 127,958; 77 percent.
9. Virginia Beach-Norfolk. 147,285; 69 percent.
10. Rochester. 116,565; 69 percent (a tie).
11. Riverside-San Bernardino. 278,305; 69 percent (a tie)