Our go to research 

Seniors Transportation: 

Saki Aono, a dedicated volunteer, recently prepared a report for us in which she reviews the current policies and practices related to seniors transportation in Metro Vancouver and inspiring examples from other jurisdictions. Thank you Saki!

The Seniors Advocate recently released a report of recommendations on transportation for seniors in BC. Seniors on the Move worked closely with the Office of the Seniors Advocate leading up to the report. We wrote an open letter as a response to the report.

The Council of Canadian Academies recently released the results of their Expert Panel on the Transportation Needs of an Aging Population. The paper was requested by Transport Canada and therefore reflects recommendations for improving transportation within federal jurisdictions, and pays particular attention to the need for seamless, door through door transportation.

The Conference Board of Canada released a 47 page report in October 2016 looking at the current ways seniors in Canada get around and how to address these challenges. Their primary recommendations are to improve driver cessation policies and practices, expand and enhance transportation services to reduce dependence on private vehicles, and improve the built environment to increase use of walking and cycling while reducing risks. An overview of the report can be found here.

The 2017 Aging Readiness and Competitive Report for Canada highlights the need for national legislation to promote accessibility, the high number (4000) of injury-causing collisions that older drivers in Canada are involved in and this high ($800 million) social cost of these collisions, strategies for increasing the use of public transit by seniors, including discounts, accessible transit and para transit.

The United Way released a seniors vulnerability report in 2011 highlights the high need for improved transportation for seniors, examining transportation’s role in physical activity, social isolation, and exposure to air pollution. It also examines seniors’ travel patterns in Metro Vancouver and the role community design plays in transportation.

In 2015, Nelson Cares Society released a final report on their collaborative approach to addressing seniors’ transportation barriers. The report is a great example of finding solutions to transportation in more rural areas by working across sectors, including the following needs:  coordinate medical and recreational scheduling with transit services, shuttle buses, more transportation to medical services, public education, marketing and advocacy for seniors transportation issues, funding for volunteer ride programs, rural outreach programs, washrooms within transportation systems, individualized planning ahead for when seniors are no longer able to drive, senior-friendly guides to HandyDART, help support carsharing become more accessible, and the need to promote more ride-share/carpooling.


Road Safety

The 2016 Provincial Health Officer’s Annual Report focuses on how to reduce the impact of motor vehicle crashes in BC and includes many recommendations for making our roads safer for vulnerable road users, including seniors who are pedestrians, a group far over-represented in deaths due to motor vehicles, as well as hospitalization rates. Recommendations include modifying roadways and intersections to prioritize pedestrians, reviewing speed limits, and educating all road users about safe behaviour. They also review Safe Streets for Seniors programs and traffic calming efforts. The 260 page report includes many other recommendations, including increasing public transportation service, a much safer mode of transportation than private vehicles.

The City of Vancouver commissioned a Pedestrian Safety Study in 2012 highlighted 12 key issues, including senior fatalities. To address this, the report recommends  evaluating the presence of safe crossing facilities throughout the City and particularly areas with higher concentrations of seniors, conducting outreach to seniors, developing a safe routes for seniors program, and setting enforcement priorities for speeding and crosswalk yielding that include areas where seniors are more likely to be present”. The report also recommends a variety of improvements including leading pedestrian intervals providing a head start and establishing right of way for those walking at intersections, restricting right turns on red lights, separate signals and bays for left turns, installing corner bulges to slow cars and reduce crossing distance for pedestrians, and improving street lighting to increase visibility of pedestrians.

In 2016 The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General of RoadSafetyBC released a report looking at road safety across the province. The report notes that in 2015, 290 people died and 2631 were seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes in BC. It also notes that while there has been progress on safety of motor vehicle users, the same cannot be said for vulnerable road users, mostly pedestrians and cyclists. Seniors as a population group have also been experiencing more fatalities between the period of 2005- 2014. The report notes that the province’s aging demographics means older driver fitness will become increasingly important in road safety policies and programs.

A 2016 report from Victoria Walks in Australia looks at how road environments can be designed to improve safety for older pedestrians, with recommendations including mid block crossing with lights and raised crosswalks, traffic calming and lower speed limits, curb bulges to reduce pedestrian crossing distance, leading pedestrian intervals and fully controlled right and left turn signals to avoid conflicts betweens drivers and pedestrians.


Public and Paratransit 

In 2017 TransLink released a report on its stakeholder engagement surrounding HandyDART, including recommendations and comments from this engagement, which Seniors on the Move took part in. These recommendations include extending the trip booking window to later in the afternoon the day before the trip (you can now book until 4pm), and expanding HandyDART applications to include information about conventional public transit services. The full report can be found here.  

The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) commissioned a report in 2013 on the business and value case for accessible transit in Canada. This report includes case studies of incentive programs, community shuttle buses that operate between door to door paratransit and conventional transit service, integrated community shuttles such as the ones operating in Delta, BC, travel training and journey assistants.

Transportation for America released a report in 2011 called Aging in Place: Stuck Without Options, examining how to fix the mobility crisis threatening the baby boom generation. Their primary conclusion is that “only adequate public transportation can assure that older adults are able to travel as often or as far as they would like, without worrying about inconveniencing others”.  Their recommendations include dedicated funding for a variety of public transportation services, coordination of existing services, expansion and outreach programs, planning with seniors at the table, and a complete streets policy to ensure streets are safe for all ages and abilities.

ILC-UK and Age UK released a report in 2015 on the Future of Transport in an Ageing Society, with the key findings that ⅓ of seniors in England never use public transit, despite it being free, 35, 000 seniors aged 65-84 have difficulty walking even a short distance (such as to a bus stop), and 1.45 million seniors find it quite or very difficult to travel to a hospital.

TransitCenter released a report in 2017 titled All-Ages Access: Making Transit Work for Everyone in America’s Rapidly Aging Cities, focused on the need to make public transit and paratransit more accessible and useful for seniors. For example, they highlight that physical limitations make certain features more attractive to some older riders, including shorter walks to the bus stop, padded seats, fewer stairs, and smoother rides. The report’s primary recommendations are to improve the accessibility and performance of fixed-route transit, implement services catering to riders with varying mobility needs, such as paratransit feeder service, route-deviation transit, and on-demand service, and improve the performance of paratransit through contract incentives and technology.

In 2018 TransitCenter released a report titled From Sorry to Superb: Everything you Need to Know about Great Bus Stops. The report notes that the most desired improvements to bus stops are real-time information and upgrades to transit stop facilities, such as benches and shelters, which can significantly reduce perceived wait time. The report also notes that bus facilities are often vastly underfunded compared to rail, despite substantial bus ridership. They also note that upgrading bus stops is a low cost, high value proposition for public transit.

Built Environment 

The Provincial Health Services Authority released a Healthy Built Environment Toolkit in 2014, which includes recommendations on creating walkable neighbourhoods, including the need for sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting and benches, as well as traffic calming such as narrowing travel lanes and diverting traffic, to improve the mobility and activity of older adults.

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute released a report in 2017 on Managing Personal Mobility Devices on Non-motorized Facilities.


Accessible Taxis

The Passenger Transportation Board released an updated report in 2017 on wheelchair accessible transportation and inter-city bus in BC, breaking down availability of accessible taxis by community, and room for further improvement. The report notes that 14% of taxis in the Province are wheelchair accessible, while 19% are in Metro Vancouver. However, the report does not address issues of how often these taxis are on the road at any one time, but the Passenger Transportation Board will begin collecting this data for future reports.


Land Use

A 2017 report from the Institute for Research on Public Policy looks at how Canadian suburbs can become age-friendly. The report notes that the car dependent suburbs built post WWII are not currently set up to meet the needs of an aging population, either in terms of a range of housing options, nor barrier-free transportation networks. The report notes that seniors living in neighbourhoods where a car is needed for daily life are the first to be affected when they can no longer drive. It also highlights why the Age-Friendly planning model has not been more widely adopted, and how to integrate it more into municipal and land use planning.