Seniors listen as Laura Cantwell of AARP discusses transportation options at a town hall meeting June 25 at Hale Senior Activity Center in Dunedin.
DUNEDIN - The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and AARP presented a town hall June 25 to discuss how transportation and mobility options can help Pinellas seniors live on their own terms.
More than fifty seniors and residents attended the open forum at the Hale Senior Activity Center in Dunedin to hear from several speakers about how current PSTA services and potential future services through the Greenlight Pinellas plan would benefit the region's seniors.
In addition to an overall 65 percent increase in PSTA bus service, 80 percent more weekend service and extended early morning and late night transit service, seniors would benefit under Greenlight Pinellas from increased evening and weekend DART door-to-door transit for those unable to use traditional bus service. There also would an increase in frequency of connector community circulator buses for easier access to shopping, medical appointments and community services.
"Transportation is a key component of livable communities, because by 2025, one in five drivers will be over age 65," said Laura Cantwell, associate state director of AARP. "When you don't have transportation options, it impacts your physical and social isolation, it impairs your physical and mental wellbeing, and it increases healthcare costs and compromises seniors' ability to age in place."
"Seniors over age 65 who no longer drive make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor - that's something that PSTA, our connector buses and our DART paratransit service can help with," said Brad Miller, CEO of PSTA. "But mobility options for seniors means more than just going to the doctor, it means being able to spend time with family and friends, it means being able to be a part of our community, and it means freedom and independence."
"The transit system we have now isn't adequate for those over 65, but it isn't adequate for the rest of our community either. We have a lot of college students and younger people who could be riding, so Greenlight Pinellas is really about the future," said Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala. "One of the first things businesses looking to relocate to this area ask us is, 'what's your public transportation like?' And Greenlight Pinellas will give us a great answer to that question."
An AARP study found that 85 percent of seniors are extremely/very concerned about fuel prices, leading many to seek other transportation options such as public transit. The number one reason seniors in the Pinellas area move into assisted living facilities is the inability to drive anymore and lack of transportation options.