The population of Washington State is rapidly aging. By 2030, one out of five Washingtonians will be age 65 plus. The Transportation Revenue Package is an opportunity to prepare our state for these changing demographics. New investments should promote flexible transportation options that will help older people and people with disabilities stay mobile and engaged in their communities.
Aging population, changing transportation needs
- Currently, 21% of people 65 plus no longer drive, this population of non-drivers will increase dramatically as baby boomers retire.[i]
- Nationally, over 2 million people with disabilities never leave their homes. Of those individuals, 560,000 don’t leave home due to transportation difficulties.
- An AARP report also found that 40 percent of adults age 50 and older reported inadequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods and nearly 50 percent reported that they could not safely cross main roads close to their home.[ii]
Priorities for the Transportation Revenue Package
1) Public Transit
2) Special Needs Transportation
3) Complete Streets
- State transit ridership has seen sharp increases in recent years, up 12 percent from 2005-2008.[iii]
- The aging of the population will create greater pressure on public transportation.
- From 2010-2020, Washington will experience a $4.5 billion revenue shortfall for public transportation.[iv]
Recommendation: A balanced package should dedicate at least 25% of new investments to transportation choices, including transit (special needs, grants, and direct distribution), Complete Streets, Safe Routes to School and bike/pedestrian safety. In addition, local transit systems should have the authority to increase revenue to sustain systems. This will provide accessibility, improve mobility, and keep people of all ages and abilities mobile and engaged in their communities.
Special Needs Transportation
- Special needs transportation allows local communities to determine their own challenges and find local solutions in a coordinated manner.
- Services such paratransit are uneven across the state, underfunded, and often undependable.
- Riders must book trips far in advance, often experience long wait times and delays and do not have flexibility when their schedules change.
- Rural areas with no fixed transit routes are particularly underserved, and services in urban areas are also constrained due to cut-backs.
Recommendation: Set aside an additional $100 million over the next ten years for special needs transportation in order to ensure statewide access to transportation for people with disabilities.
- Increased frailty puts older road users at greater risk of serious injury and death. Researchers calculate that a driver 70 or older is about 3 times as likely as someone 35-54 years old to be fatally injured in a crash.[v]
- Washington needs streets designed to be safe and convenient for travel by car, foot, bicycle and transit regardless of age or ability.
- Complete streets policies keep all users in mind. They provide framework for new road construction or road repair that supports multimodal forms of transportation.
- Complete Street policies have potential to economically revitalize a community, and bring jobs to the area.
Recommendation: Dozens of Washington cities and localities have passed ordinances supporting Complete Streets. Washington’s Complete Streets Bill (HB 1071) went into effect July 2011, but localities have yet to see grant funding. We recommend investing at least $150 million per biennium towards funding the Complete Streets Grant Program so that cities and localities can begin their work to make communities more accessible.
For more information contact:
Ingrid McDonald, AARP Washington, Advocacy Director
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[i] U.S. Department of Transportation, “Summary of Travel Trends: 2009 National Household Travel Survey,” 2009.
[ii] AARP, “Washington: AARP Older Driver and Pedestrian Safety State Fact Sheet,” 2010.
[iii] Transportation for Washington, “Transit Ridership on the Rise – People Depend on Transit,” Fall 2011.
[iv] Transportation for Washington, “Transit Ridership on the Rise – People Depend on Transit,” Fall 2011.
[v] Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Status Report.” Vol. 45, No. 9, June 19, 2010. Page 2.