Sustainability | Renewable Energy

Transport Systems for Seniors

5 Interventions for Fostering Suitable Transport Systems for Seniors 

By Beth Rush


Transportation is necessary for seniors to maintain an autonomous lifestyle in their golden years. Older loved ones can live more independently if they can reduce their reliance on family or caregivers to drive them where they need to go, which is possible if they can access buses and trains conveniently or know how to book car service. 

However, public transportation needs some revamping to make it more senior-friendly since the existing system has barriers. Here’s how industry leaders can create sustainable transport systems for seniors and promote their independence. 

What Does an Age-Friendly Transit System Look Like?


There are multiple parameters for a suitable transport system for seniors, but an imperative factor is its age-friendliness, which includes these categories:


Many seniors use buses, subways, and trains, especially those living in rural areas. Two dimensions primarily determine how accessible public transportation is for older people — how easily they can physically access the services and the availability of information about the schedules and means of transit. The more these are available, the more helpful it will be.


Senior-friendly transport must be affordable to encourage older people to use it. It helps increase their access to essential services, such as health care, churches, shops, and food, unassisted by a caregiver. It also reduces isolation and promotes overall well-being.


Three aspects describe safe public transportation for seniors — safety from crime and accidents and how passengers perceive security. The last factor depends on the quality of service provided during the ride. For example, messy and disorganized buses and those that lead to longer waiting times are considered unsafe and reliable. In contrast, seniors will likely perceive accessible, efficient, and quality services as secure. 

What Interventions Support Sustainable Transport Systems for Seniors?


The three factors above serve as a core when designing age-friendly transit as they address the major pain points in existing systems. Here are five ways transportation leaders can customize the current transportation structure for seniors. 

1. Making Assistive Devices Available

Although this is already implemented in air transportation by providing wheelchairs to senior passengers, it can further expand if industry leaders bring this to land vehicles. Making assistive devices, such as walkers, crutches, and canes, readily available ensures people can use buses, trains, and public cars without assistance.

2. Modifying Public Vehicle Structures

Buses that are age-friendly are a tremendous help to promote seniors’ independence. For example, low-floor boarding, handrails, and ramps for wheelchair access can support convenient and safer boarding and disembarking. 

Another modifiable aspect is the seating arrangement. Designating priority seating areas for older people near the entrance, preferably with extra space for walkers or canes, can improve the riding experience. Seniors can contribute to a sustainable environment if they take public transportation, which only becomes possible if it’s safe and suitable. 

3. Installing Mobility Materials

Older people are highly susceptible to falls and slips due to their declining physical abilities. Each year, one out of four seniors experience falls, and one out of five cases causes a serious injury that leads to hospitalization. A senior will spend $14,000 on average for long-term care after a fall. 

Things to keep in mind to promote sustainable transport systems for seniors include:

. Installing nonslip strips on step edges, especially in subways and stations requiring seniors to use the stairs  

. Adding clear signage on buses about route information and upcoming stops 

. Announcing stops and transfers to inform seniors of their locations

. Installing lighting to ensure adequate visibility, especially at night. Well-lit interiors help older passengers navigate their surroundings and minimize falls

. Equipping public transportation with emergency communication systems and ensuring the driver receives training in handling situations requiring urgent help

4. Leverage Technology Solutions

Existing technology innovations can foster sustainable transport systems for seniors, allowing them to travel safely even without a companion. However, one barrier that limits access is the lack of technological knowledge, especially using phone applications or smartphones. Older loved ones must receive training on leveraging technology to book rides. Modern solutions they can use include the following:

Ride-sharing: Apps like Uber and Lyft allow seniors to book car service when they have doctor’s appointments or need to run errands. 

Mobility aids: Devices like three-wheeled stepping scooters, bikes, and electric wheelchairs can increase mobility.

Autonomous vehicles: These are ideal for older adults with driving challenges such as vision concerns. Self-driving cars are equipped with artificial intelligence and sensors for seniors to safely navigate the streets without requiring them to take over the steering wheel.

5. Giving Special Fares

Age-friendly public transportation must also be affordable to encourage seniors to use them. Fortunately, many vehicle networks already offer discounted rates for older people. For instance, Metro Transit provides ride-all-day for only $1 during non-rush hours, $2.50 during rush hours, and $3.25 on express rush hours even without a schedule on its 14 popular routes. 

Other transportation businesses have a similar scheme, which is a significant advantage for seniors with an active lifestyle since they can have the freedom to go anywhere they want. 

Promoting Sustainable Transport Systems for Seniors


Physical activity is necessary for seniors’ health and well-being. One way to support this is by making public transportation age-friendly so they can socialize, buy groceries, and attend doctor’s appointments. 

Making assistive devices available, modifying public vehicle structures, adding mobility materials, and teaching them how to use technology can help achieve this goal. Transportation options that are accessible and affordable encourage independence.

About the Author: Beth Rush is the green wellness editor at Body+Mind. She has more than five years of experience writing and editing articles covering topics like sustainable transit and the importance of green spaces in urban planning. You can find Beth on Twitter @bodymindmag.

Subscribe to Body+Mind for more posts by Beth!


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