There are a number of great senior-friendly transportation initiatives, including:
Priority Queue Initiative, Singapore - This initiative includes providing a dedicated waiting and seating area for seniors, expectant mothers, and people with disabilities on transit, visible by different colours and large signage. This allows those in the seating area priority transit boarding.
Free transit for seniors, Laval, Quebec - Free transit for seniors over the age of 65 since 2014. In 2016, over 19 000 seniors used the transit system!
TransLink was the first transit authority to have an accessible transit system….this could be why in 2011 Metro Vancouver had a 15% transit mode share for seniors, far higher than the national average.
Bus stops- go Richmond!
Richmond, BC recently won a planning award for their bus stops and transit amenities.
· The City has an annual capital program to fund the upgrade of bus stops to provide accessibility (e.g., addition of concrete landing pad so the bus can deploy its ramp for wheelchair/scooter users, provision of connecting paths, etc).
· Over the past 5 years, the City has increased its percentage of accessible bus stops from 64.5% (Aug. 2014) to 76% (Aug. 2018). There are currently 727 bus stops in Richmond.
· Per a new 20 year agreement with Pattison Outdoor Ltd, the number of shelters will increase from 48 to 200 within the first 10 years of the agreement. The existing 48 shelters will also be replaced with the new design.
· The number of benches at bus stops will increase from 365 to 600, also in the first 10 years.
· The new shelter design features an address panel (e.g., Granville at Minoru) to aid wayfinding, The phrasing follows the recommendation of the Richmond Seniors Advisory Committee (e.g., use “at” rather than “and”).
· The font and font size of the address panels meet US ADA (Americans with Disability Act) guidelines for legibility.
· The benches within the shelters have arm rests to aid standing up/sitting down.
· Over the long-term, a target of the City is to provide a transit shelter at bus stops that have a minimum of 25 boardings per day. Note that some locations may preclude a shelter if sufficient road right-of-way is not available.
North Shore Go Bus- A long time community favourite, the GO BUS is a shuttle bus service that assists seniors in accessing community resources such as shopping, seniors’ centres, grocery stores, pharmacies and other destinations in North Vancouver. The Go Bus travels different routes on operation days, making stops to pick up and drop off seniors at requested locations. The Go Bus is administered by Silver Harbour Seniors’ Activity Centre and is supported by a variety of public, private and nonprofit providers. Download the brochure about the GO BUS here. Check out other shuttles in Metro Vancouver.
Sweden has a variety of demand responsive services in different cities, including shuttles featuring destinations where seniors want to go, specially trained senior-friendly drivers, smaller, more accessible buses, and shorter distances between bus stops to reduce walking. In addition, the buses can be hailed anywhere along the route and the schedule is built with lots of time for people to board.
Walkable neighbourhoods- a study in the highly walkable West End of Vancouver found that seniors were 5 x more likely to walk for transportation than the regional average.
SWAN (Stakeholders’ Walkability/Wheelability Audit in Neigbourhoods)- This is a walking/wheeling audit tool developed in party by Atiya Mahmood in the SFU Gerontology Department. The tool engages and trains seniors and persons with disabilities to audit their own neighbourhood, looking for aspects such as appropriate curb cuts, crosswalk countdowns, flat, accessible sidewalks, street lighting and more. Seniors on the Move has recently been introducing community groups and senior-serving agencies to SWAN and hopes to develop the data into a community mapping project.
Transportation Alternatives in New York City created a Safe Routes for Seniors program in 2003, which was the first program of its kind to address the unique needs of older pedestrians with regards to street design. The program has since been adopted by the City of New York and has added traffic-calming, wider sidewalks, more seating, more pedestrian refuges and bus shelters. The program has also been responsible for helping learn about the needs of seniors, such as longer crosswalk timers.
The City of New Westminster now has curb cuts on 100% of their intersections. They are now updating the older curb cuts to safer designs.
Cycling Without Age’s slogan is the right to wind in your hair. The program pairs volunteer pilots up with seniors looking for a ride in the specially designed cycle trishaws, getting seniors out and about who wouldn’t otherwise be able. Cycling Without Age was established in Copenhagen in 2012 and is now represented in 40 countries worldwide, including Canada. BEST is helping to bring Cycling Without Age to Vancouver so stay tuned. Check out this truly inspirational TED Talk video about Cycling Without Age.
A few bikeshare providers are exploring adding adaptive bikes and trikes to their shared fleets. Many providers have already incorporated electric bikes.
Volunteer Ride Programs
Toronto Ride is a collaborative partnership of 13 agencies where individual agencies have their own volunteer ride programs but utilize the network for rides which they cannot meet, by placing the ride request into a larger pool for other agencies within the network to pick up.
Recognizing that having to use personal vehicles was a large barrier to many drivers who might volunteer for volunteer ride programs, Seniors on the Move has partnered with Modo the Car Co-op to recruit drivers through their member list, and provide access to cars for volunteers who don’t have them.
In many cities in Europe, healthcare workers directly book para-transit service (like HandyDART) for their patients.
Nelson Cares Society has been home to the Moving Together project in collaboration with local government, community service agencies, Interior Health, BC Transit and other transportation providers to improve transportation services for seniors in the West Kootenays. Now, as Kootenay Seniors Transportation, a designated staff member continues to help by providing support for seniors to plan a trip to a medical appointment or sign up for HandyDART or a volunteer driver program, etc. Other successes include a once a week bus to take seniors to medical appointments which are scheduled for when the bus runs. To read their final report click here.