Our Work With Seniors and People With Disabilities
MANY OLDER ADULTS and people with disabilities, especially those who are unable to rely on personal vehicles, experience significant obstacles to mobility in sprawling LA County due to our dependence on the automobile. In order to address these concerns during the campaign for Measure M, Move LA led the establishment of the Aging and Disability Transportation Network—including organizations such as AARP, St. Barnabas Senior Services, the Los Angeles Aging Advocacy Coalition, Independent Living Centers, LA Care, the Hospital Association of Southern California, and public interest law firms—to advocate for more transit programs and policies responsive to the needs of people with disabilities and older adults.
This coalition won unanimous Metro Board support for a motion requiring staff to produce an Annual Accessibility Report that would include data measuring the agency’s progress in responding to the transportation needs of seniors and people with disabilities, and to hold a conference following a draft of each report so that it could be evaluated and to discuss the issues that it raised. The coalition wants results that go far beyond meeting minimal ADA standards, so that LA Metro can serve as a national model for transporting people of all ages and abilities.
Trips to the doctor, to local stores, and to cultural and educational opportunities are not luxuries, but necessities. There is a compelling need for more transportation options, increased safety, better access to timely service, and more coordination between different kinds of service. While resources for transit have increased significantly in LA County, bus ridership has declined. Move LA believes that one way to fix this problem is to meet the needs of the largest growing segment of LA County’s population. For example, LA County has about 20 seniors for every 100 people of working age and that ratio is projected to be 40 seniors for every 100 people of working age in approximately 20 years.
Other statistics point to the need. Adults who are 65 years of age or older comprise 11% of the county’s total population (37% are disabled and 36% live at or below 200% of the federal poverty level), and the number of seniors increased by 20% since the 2000 Census, while those living at or below the poverty line increased by about 48%. People with disabilities represent about 9% of the county’s population. This is a segment of the population that would greatly benefit from more and better transit services tailored to their needs.
Below are some of the outcomes most desired by the Aging and Disability Transportation Network as both necessary and achievable.
- Expand same-day services such as Access for paratransit riders so that everyone in LA County who needs this service can get it in a timely manner;
- Initiate and expand the use of specialized on-demand mobility services such as microtransit for older adults so that there is more affordable, timely and accessible curb-to-curb service;
- Improve Metro’s trip planning system by including information about services offered by other transit agencies, human service organizations and private service providers;
- Enhance accessibility among nearby bus stops and between bus stops and adjacent transit stations.
- Improve the safety, availability and quality of bus stops and bus shelters, create more shade at bus stops and add bus stops to hospital campuses where feasible and with the approval of hospitals and local jurisdictions;
- Make it easier to use transit stations by improving the reliability of elevator and escalator services;
- Eliminate competition between people in wheelchairs and on bicycles who have to occupy the limited space set aside for them in compartments on the light rail system;
- Provide robust rider education programs that address the needs of older adults.