Investigating the Usability and Effectiveness of Public Transportation Technology in Older Adults during a Public Health Crisis

Mobility, as in travel in and around one’s community, is often a challenge for older adults (i.e., individuals aged 65 years and older). Limitations due to age-related decline and, recently, the fear of the pandemic have led many adults to avoid travel. However, since maintaining mobility and independence may be associated with older adults’ physical and mental health, it is critical to investigate how this population maintains mobility during a public health crisis (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic). In many metropolitan areas, public transportation is one of the leading transit sources for older adults, especially those who may not be able to drive or have no access to personal vehicles. However, using public transportations may rely heavily on technologies (particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic) such as smartphone apps (e.g., Caltrain Mobile, Clippers) that help users purchase tickets and find routes/stations. A lack of accessibility to this technology for older adults could cause them to lose mobility in their communities when it is needed most. It is unclear whether or not these technology apps 1) are accessible for older adults, and 2) accommodate the mobility needs of older adults. Therefore, this project aims to investigate older adults’ use of public transportation technology during a public health crisis. A mixed-method research design will be conducted to address how older adults utilize technology to access public transportation.

Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
San José State University
Principal Investigator: 
Gaojian Huang & Egbe-Etu Etu
PI Contact Information: 

Gaojian Huang

Egbe-Etu Etu

San Jose State University

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization): 

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology - $6,546.76

Total Project Cost: 
Agency ID or Contract Number: 
October 2021 to April 2022
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation: 

Possible findings of this project will provide empirical evidence on how older adults use technology in daily life to maintain their mobility, advance research in technology acceptance models, and provide guidance for engineers and designers to increase the accessibility for universal users.

Project Number: 



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