Keeping Older Adults On the Move
Resource type: Grantee Story
One of the major obstacles to older adults’ participation in society is their lack of access to activities outside their homes. Also, older drivers face the highest fatal crash rate of any age group in the country.
Not surprisingly, an estimated one million people age 70 and older give up driving each year and outlive their decision by six to ten years. More than half of older adults who no longer drive stay home on any given day due to lack of transportation options. As a result, older non-drivers become isolated and are less able to participate in their communities.
Purpose and Impact of the Grant
To establish a national network of transportation services for older adults based on the Independent Transportation Network. The model developed in Portland, ME, provides door-to-door transportation services to older adult members. It relies on paid and volunteer drivers (the majority of whom are older themselves), and various streams of income: 58% from earned revenue and the balance from local fundraising efforts.
With Atlantic support of a planning process, four communities (Santa Monica, CA; Mercer County, NJ; Orlando, FL; and Charleston, SC) will replicate the model with support from local foundations.
In February 2006, Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, introduced to Congress the Older Americans Sustainable Mobility Act, based on the ITNAmerica model. It is a two-part $25 million bill that would:
- Create a tax deduction for older adults who donate their cars to a transportation programme and would require that they get financial credit toward future rides with the same programme
- Provide five years of grants for developing and expanding driving programmes patterned after ITNPortland.
Already, several state legislatures are easing rules to help create new transportation options. Maine passed a law last year that made it simpler for nonprofits to let older adults trade in their cars for transportation service. In Connecticut, a new law provides matching public money for communities that start efforts modeled on the Maine network. Rhode Island is considering versions of both laws.