Opinion

EDITORIAL: Fix transit for our seniors

The last 60 years of transportation design have been about getting young, mobile people to work. Now may be the time to find a way to make transportation safer and more usable for seniors.

Before, no one cared about washrooms at SkyTrain stations, truly accessible bus stops and buses or other services that would make it easier for older people to give up the car and take transit. Before, nobody worried that our street lighting, signage, even our drivers’ licence system was inadequate for use by older people whose eyesight may be failing, whose reflexes are slow but who may still have a clean driving record.

Before, no one cared that suburban living doesn’t support seniors, who may become isolated at home and dependent on government or volunteer services to get around.

Now, though, as the grey tsunami begins to overwhelm public resources, it may be time to care.

The evidence is already clear that transportation is inadequate for vulnerable, less mobile people. HandyDart is overwhelmed by people who need door-to-door service, so it’s time to take another look at how this service is used. Last year, for example, there were 42,418 service denials and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Is it time to take another look at how service to the most vulnerable is delivered? Yes.

The evidence is also clear that our accepted driver’s licence system is inadequate for older drivers. Although most stay off the road in risky periods, studies find the crash rate for people 70 and older is similar to the crash rate of new drivers (those ages 16 to 24).

Is it time to take another look at how our driver’s license system works? Yes.

Is it time to take another look at how our transit system works for seniors? Absolutely, so we can keep our moms and dads safe, secure and healthy, and so it will be ready for us one day.

 

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