Study: 90 percent of metro Atlanta seniors to lack transit access by 2015

Approximately 500,000 seniors won’t be within walking distance to bus or rail

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Yep, metro Atlanta has found itself at the top of yet another “worst” list.

According to a new study by Transportation For America, 90 percent of metro Atlanta’s seniors — that’s more than 500,000 people — have “poor access” to transit and “will face shrinking mobility options as they age” by 2015. That means they’ll have a harder time visiting the doctor, shopping at the supermarket, and seeing their families. The golden years of their lives will be spent sitting inside, watching Maury, and posting cute yet embarrassing things on their grandchildren’s Facebook walls. The number is most likely to increase in metro Atlanta, where one in five residents is expected to be over the age of 65 by the year 2030. (The metro region edged out Kansas City, Mo., and Oklahoma City for the dubious honor. Read T4A’s full report here.)

The solution, according to the group: Start mimicking Logan’s Run Invest more in alternate modes of transportation.

Local governments could also plan walkable communities near existing bus and rail lines where seniors could live. Two years ago, the Atlanta Regional Commission asked New Urbanism guru Andres Duany to re-envision several metro Atlanta communities as areas where seniors could live with some dignity. An ARC spokeswoman says several of the areas Duany’s team studied, including Cobb and DeKalb counties, have conducted further study into the issue and begun looking into special zoning codes. Some neighborhoods, including Peachtree Hills, are studying how it could become what’s called a “lifelong community.” A regional mobility management call center, which is on the shortlist of funding from next year’s 1-cent transportation tax, could also help. Writes the spokeswoman in an e-mail:

The money would set up a call center that would allow elderly and disabled persons to call one number and get information about transportation providers and services that are available to take them where they need to go. The counties would receive funding to expand (or add) voucher programs, travel training and other types of specialized services to make transportation more widely available (and affordable).

Is it a sexy issue? No. But it needs to be addressed. Hell, by the time some of these changes are implemented, I’ll probably be needing the service.