Next week I’ll be making a pilgrimage back to the Beaver State to give a presentation at the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) Expo in Portland, OR. My panel session, Disrupting the Way We Age: Innovations in Senior Transportation, will deal with ways transit agencies are handling the surge in demand for senior transportation.
My presentation, titled The Totally Foreseeable Disruption of an Aging Population, will go over how the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority has addressed the explosion in transportation demand from its senior citizen customers. Among the strategies I’ll touch on are:
- Coordination with Councils on Aging;
- Trip grouping and negotiation; and
- Separation of senior services from the federally-required ADA service.
Those of us in the paratransit business know, we’ve got our work cut out for us.
The post-war housing paradigm was to build a lot of homes in ever-further flung auto-oriented suburbs, far from medical offices or shopping and nowhere near a transit line. Our country has 70 million Baby Boomers living in these places and, once they aren’t able to drive anymore, will be dependent on transit agencies to get them to doctor’s appointments, pharmacies, shopping, or senior centers. Many eventually move to more centrally-located senior living centers, but for those who won’t or can’t, PVTA is often the life-sustaining connection to the services so desperately needed.
With these paratransit trips costing between 5 and 10 times as much as a regular fixed route bus trip, serving this skyrocketing demand is a real challenge for all transit agencies. Fortunately PVTA has a board and administrator committed to serving the needs of the region’s seniors, actively pursuing new ways of maintaining this important service. This panel is an opportunity to share best practices and brainstorm other methods of serving our paratransit customers.
So if you’re going to the CTAA Expo next week, stop by and check out my panel! It should be an interesting discussion that I expect will result in some valuable idea exchange.