All people need access to a variety of safe, affordable, dependable, and user-friendly travel options. For some people regular, fixed-route public transportation services are ideal. More personalized services are more appropriate for others because of health, disability status, or geography. Such personalized services might include paratransit, dial-a-ride, reduced-fare taxis, or rides in private vehicles available through volunteer driver programs. Although everyone benefits from having multiple transportation options, it is especially important for older adults, people with disabilities, and others who cannot or choose not to drive.
More than eight million Americans age 65 and older do not drive. More than half of these nondrivers stay home on any given day. And many of those who do drive are likely to stop using their cars at some point. Drivers age 70 and older are expected to outlive their driving years—men by seven years and women by ten.
Community transportation systems provide practical alternatives to private vehicles. They offer older adults access to needed services and social opportunities. They build on the network of fixed-route public transportation options to offer services that are person-centered, flexible, innovative, and cost-effective. These services create the opportunity for transportation-disadvantaged people to remain independent and self-sufficient and continue to participate fully in the life of their community. For example, they help ensure mobility for people with disabilities and can connect people with low incomes to jobs and training facilities.