The whole issue of whether older people can drive, whether they should drive and if not, then what alternative transportation options can be taken, has become a serious one. The traditional transportation services can be made ‘senior friendly’, but then, it also involves difficulties regarding the related policy, structure and process and it is here where Community action can act as an effective method.
What actually is the need for community action?
You will often find the senior people complaining that the travel provided by the various alternative services is point-to-point whereas they prefer a flexible route which would serve their individual requirement.
Due to physical inability, they face difficulty while walking to the bus stop or even to the curb to access public and para-transit. Traveling can be difficult as older people have physical limitations which require transportation escort to assist them.
Advance scheduling or time management could be often difficult to get used to. And, cases are not rare where drivers have been found being insensitive to the needs of the older people.
What are the options for community action to help senior people for transportation?
Urban as well as rural communities have come up with ideas to solve the situation. Measures have been taken to assist the senior people. Generally, there are two options for action.
- Modification or adaptation of the existing options
- Exploring new options
How can adapting or modifying the existing options help?
The transportation equipments and programs which already exist in the public and para-transit systems, can be adapted in several ways to make them suitable to the particular requirements of the senior people.
- Introducing low floor busses or busses that kneel
- Alteration or modification of the routes
- Change in the pick-up and delivery locations
- Connection with volunteer groups to provide transportation escorts
- Conducting “senior sensitivity” training for the drivers
- Offering financial incentives
- Providing door-to-door service
- Initiating a travel training program
- Offering same day reservations, 24-hour service and shortened wait times
- Introducing a senior mobility management program
What sort of new options can be created?
Several specialized transportation solutions have been thought of that would be effective right at the primary level and these have been developed by ‘grass root’ groups, senior organizations and transportation service providers.
- Apart from urban centers, rural and semi-urban areas have been covered under these programs.
- Both paid as well as volunteer drivers are used.
- Rides are offered based on specific requirements or particular purposes.
- Transportation escorts are provided.
- Risk management issues are also addressed.