Assessing Alternative Transportation Options for Older Users

With the aging of the population comes increased societal challenges, including maintaining mobility for older adults. Modes of transportation are the means to the end of mobility. Mobility enables older adults to do the things they need to do, such as shopping or medical appointments, as well as the things they want to do, such as socializing with friends and family. In the US, the majority of people of all ages prefer to travel by personal vehicle. As the population of older adults grows, so too does the projected number of older drivers; in the US the number of drivers over age 65 is expected to grow dramatically over the coming decades, with drivers over age 65 making up an increasing percentage of all drivers (Highway Loss Data Institute 2012; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010). For many older adults, however, the driving mode is not just a means to an end, but an end in and of itself: the act of driving is central to their senses of identity and autonomy (Donorfio et al. 2008b). Driving gives the individual the ability to make choices about the timing of trips and the order of stops and the overall sense of control over one's life. Much work on older adults and transportation has focused on driving, much of it around driving self-regulation: older adults' voluntary reduction of when and where they drive in order to stay safe (e.g., Donorfio et al. 2008a; Molnar et al. 2010; Owsley, Stalvey and Phillips 2003; Ross et al. 2009). The work has explored strategies and patterns of self-regulation. Other work has looked at driving cessation, such as what prompts it or what the effects of cessation are (e.g., Edwards et al. 2010; Marottoli et al. 1997; Marottoli et al. 2000). Less work has explored how older adults think about their transportation alternatives. This study proposes a qualitative exploration of older adults' assessments of alternatives to the personal vehicle. In particular, the study will compare older adults aging in place in an urban environment with those in a suburban environment to understand how older adults view their transportation choices. In both contexts transit is available. The study will uncover the transportation alternatives older adults see in different contexts, as well as reasons why they would or would not be likely to use these alternatives. The study will also provide an opportunity to examine why some alternatives for transportation are less visible to some older adults. Finally, the study will explore how likely older adults might be to develop a transportation network for themselves through rides with family and friends. This research will provide insight into the barriers that prevent older adults for using some alternative forms of transportation, as well as an understanding of which forms do not even figure in older adults' transportation calculus. It will also provide insight into how the living context may figure into older adults' perspectives on transportation alternatives, and how feasible they see aging in place to be without alternatives to driving.


    • English


    • Status: Completed
    • Funding: $130000.00
    • Contract Numbers:



    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Research and Innovative Technology Administration

      Department of Transportation
      1200 New Jersey Avneue, SE
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Performing Organizations:

      New England University Transportation Center

      Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 40-279
      Cambridge, MA  United States  01239
    • Start Date: 20120101
    • Expected Completion Date: 0
    • Actual Completion Date: 20160131
    • Source Data: RiP Project 33579

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01489776
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: New England University Transportation Center
    • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC01, MITR24-3
    • Files: UTC, RiP
    • Created Date: Aug 15 2013 1:01AM