There are a lot of disturbing numbers in Transportation for America’s new report, “Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options.” It says the Bay Area currently has the best transportation access for seniors, but points out that in the coming years a rising number of people over age 65 will live in neighborhoods where transit service is either poor or doesn’t exist.
“In just four years, 62 percent more seniors in the San Francisco metro area will live with poor transit compared to 2000, versus 56 percent more for Oakland metro area and 66 percent more for San Jose metro area,” notes a press release from TransForm, an Oakland-based non-profit advocating for transit and smart growth.
In San Mateo County, as an example, 1 out of 4 residents will be over the age of 65 by 2030, and the number of people over the age of 85 will increase to two and half times the current number, according to the San Mateo County Health System. Sixty percent of baby boomers are projected to have more than one chronic disease, while nearly a third will be obese, and 25 percent will have diabetes.
“If we want to have healthy seniors, we have to invest in reliable, frequent and safe public transportation systems so that people can get where they need to go without a car,” said Jean Fraser, the San Mateo County Health System Chief. “If we develop our communities using the 8-80 rule — so sidewalks, bike lanes, streets, buses and trains are safe and welcoming to kids aged 8 and seniors aged 80 — we will keep both our seniors and our children much healthier.”
As Congress prepares a long-term transportation bill, transit advocates say it’s important that residents urge their representatives to adopt policies to ensure that seniors “remain mobile, active and independent.”
“The situation is already acute in the Bay Area, with annual transit cuts and growing demand,” said Stuart Cohen, the executive director of TransForm. “But now Congress is threatening to further slash funding and take away our flexibility to spend it on our greatest needs; more than ever we need Senator Boxer’s leadership as her committee finalizes the six-year transportation bill.”