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Access to Public Transit and Its Influence on Ridership for Older Adults in Two U.S. Cities


  • Baldwin Hess, Daniel

    () (University at Buffalo, State University of New York; United States)


Growth in the population of older adults (age 60 and above) in coming years will challenge urban planners and transportation managers to provide travel options that support autonomy. To investigate barriers that older adults experience in using public transit, this research explores associations between older adults who do and do not ride fixed-route public transit and their neighborhood walking access to buses and trains. The research tests whether or not the distance between a trip origin or destination and a transit stop or station is a significant factor in predicting frequency of transit ridership. Data from a survey of older adults in California and New York is used to regress older adults’ frequency of riding public transit against explanatory variables, including demographic and socioeconomic variables, access and mobility measures, and neighborhood characteristics. Findings suggest that self-reported walking distance to transit has a statistically significant influence—in San José, California, but not in Buffalo, New York—in predicting transit ridership frequency. Drivers are more sensitive to walking distance than nondrivers. Models estimate that in San José, each additional five minutes in perceived walking time to transit decreases transit ridership frequency by five percent for nondrivers and by 25 percent for drivers. Older adults are likely to ride transit more often if they are male, nonwhite, and low income.

Suggested Citation

  • Baldwin Hess, Daniel, 2009. "Access to Public Transit and Its Influence on Ridership for Older Adults in Two U.S. Cities," The Journal of Transport and Land Use, Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota, vol. 2(1), pages 3-27.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:jtralu:0016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Susan Handy & Kelly Clifton, 2001. "Local shopping as a strategy for reducing automobile travel," Transportation, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 317-346, November.
    2. Sara Wilcox & Melissa Bopp & Larissa Oberrecht & Sandra K. Kammermann & Charles T. McElmurray, 2003. "Psychosocial and Perceived Environmental Correlates of Physical Activity in Rural and Older African American and White Women," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 58(6), pages 329-337.
    3. Daniel Baldwin Hess & Tangerine Maria Almeida, 2007. "Impact of Proximity to Light Rail Rapid Transit on Station-area Property Values in Buffalo, New York," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 44(5-6), pages 1041-1068, May.
    4. Alsnih, Rahaf & Hensher, David A., 2003. "The mobility and accessibility expectations of seniors in an aging population," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 903-916, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hubers, Christa & Lyons, Glenn, 2013. "New technologies for the old: Potential implications of living in later life for travel demand," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 220-228.
    2. Olawole, Moses Olaniran & Aloba, Oluwole, 2014. "Mobility characteristics of the elderly and their associated level of satisfaction with transport services in Osogbo, Southwestern Nigeria," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 105-116.
    3. Daniel Hess, 2012. "Walking to the bus: perceived versus actual walking distance to bus stops for older adults," Transportation, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 247-266, March.
    4. Hess, Daniel Baldwin & Norton, J. Travis & Park, JiYoung & Street, Debra A., 2016. "Driving decisions of older adults receiving meal delivery: The influence of individual characteristics, the built environment, and neighborhood familiarity," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 73-85.
    5. repec:kap:transp:v:44:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11116-016-9680-z is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Liang, Xiao & Correia, Gonçalo Homem de Almeida & van Arem, Bart, 2016. "Optimizing the service area and trip selection of an electric automated taxi system used for the last mile of train trips," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 115-129.
    7. repec:eee:phsmap:v:483:y:2017:i:c:p:227-238 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:trapol:v:63:y:2018:i:c:p:73-79 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Steven Farber & Antonio Páez, 2010. "Employment status and commute distance of Canadians with disabilities," Transportation, Springer, vol. 37(6), pages 931-952, November.

    More about this item


    older adults; elderly; senior citizens; public transit; access; walking; physical activity;

    JEL classification:

    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General


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