50 + Action Plan: Transportation Options will Ensure Independence

Transportation planning must include a wide range of mobility options and focus on the needs of older adults. 

Transportation is what happens between your front door and your destination – sidewalks and trails, cars and cabs, buses and bus stops combined.

Transportation planning has focused on moving the greatest number of employees to and from work via roads and public transport but our changing demographics require broadening this focus to include the needs of older adults. Transportation issues include driver education and pedestrian safety. Many older people rely on specialty transportation services that have limited capacity, can be less reliable, and are more expensive.

Unless we integrate the needs of older adults into mainstream transportation and community planning, there will be even greater reliance on specialty transportation services. 

Most of us rely on our cars – we are a car centered culture. Unfortunately, the average man will have 6 years when he can no longer drive and the average woman will have 10 years. 

The loss of driving ability dramatically affects older adults. It reduces independence and accessibility to services. It eventually can isolate older people from the rest of society. In addition, family members and their employers are affected when older people rely on family for medical and other appointments.



  • Integrate transportation needs of older adults in all mainstream transportation planning – roads, trails, sidewalks, buses, bus shelters and in decisions that impact driving (size of signage, etc.).

  • Establish a one-stop transportation information center available online and by phone. The center should provide information on bus, rail, taxi, paratransit, door-to-door assistance, MetroAccess, and volunteer transportation. The center should also be able to make reservations for the various transportation options.

  • Increase the use of technology (swipe-cards, etc.) to improve the transportation experience for older adults.

  • Have the multi-departmental Fairfax Transportation Coordinating Committee review recent transportation studies, including The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission’s “Meeting the Transportation Needs of Northern Virginia’s Seniors” (PDF), to develop next steps in transportation planning and services.

  • Make summary information available at Board of Supervisor offices, libraries and other community sites with materials on transportation options available to older adults in our community.  

  • Increase the role of faith communities in providing transportation for older adults.

  • Host education seminars to promote familiarity with and use of our transportation systems.

  • Include public transportation information (closest stop, bus line number) in all public meeting announcements, and location information about public buildings.

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