For older adults, unmet transportation needs are linked to reduced well-being (Cvitkovich and Wister 2001). Current research indicates that, as a society, we are ill-prepared to provide adequate transit for the growing increasing population of older adults (Millar, 2005). Although public transit is available for many older adults, actual and perceived barriers prohibit its use. Thus, the research presented here examines what do older persons perceive as barriers to using fixed-route public transit?
Four focus groups were conducted with older adults in order to gain insights into what they perceive as barriers to use of fixed route transit. Findings from these focus groups informed the development of a mail-out survey sent to 1800 older adults—half each in Erie County, New York and the City of San José, California. A total of 775 (43.1%) surveys were returned. Despite concerns of response bias, data analyses reveal that older adults perceive fixed-route public transit as a viable option to their preferred mode of transit, the automobile. However, older adults note significant barriers to the use of fixed-route transit. This report summarizes findings and presents a behavior change model that may be used as an intervention and even a guide to market the strengths of fixed-route public transit while encouraging older adults to use transit.
MICHAEL D. PECK
When this research study began, Michael Peck, M.T.I Research Assistant, was an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at San José State University, where he also served as Director of the Social Work Aging Resource Center and as a Faculty Affiliate in the Interdisciplinary Gerontology Program. His research has focused on understanding cognitive appraisal processes for older adults, with an emphasis on how such mental evaluations influence health and well-being. Currently, he is a licensed clinical social worker in the State of Arizona where a focus of his practice is on the needs of older adults. He also is a member of the faculty of the School of Social Work at Arizona State University in the College of Public Programs.