Ballot push for transit millage touts needs of seniors
The campaign to promote a regional transit millage on the ballot this fall focused on seniors Tuesday, as advocates pressed for options to keep them active and mobile.
The need of seniors getting to the doctor, grocery store or visiting families would be met with a four-county millage proposal to expand regional transit, a Coalition for Transit said said during a news conference in Detroit.
Transit opportunities would allow seniors and others more freedom to travel, they said during an event the Village of Brush Park Manor senior living facility.
“Connected regional transit is particularly essential to our seniors’ independence ... when at least one out of five older adults 65 and up don’t drive,” said Paul Bridgewater, president and CEO of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging. “We can and must do better to help our seniors get where they need to go, from doctor’s appointments and grocery stores to visiting their friends and families.”
The public will vote on the 4.6-billion Regional Transit Authority master plan initiative this fall. The 20-year millage for Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw and Oakland counties would help fund three bus rapid-transit routes, a commuter rail line from Ann Arbor to Detroit, an airport shuttle service and a universal fare card, among other upgrades.
But the plan also helps RTA officials assist transit bus agencies such as the Detroit Department of Transportation to better coordinate with the suburban SMART bus service and expand routes.
Organizers of a Coalition for Transit say the need is there, citing latest U.S. Census information that shows a quarter of the state’s population will be 60 and older by 2030.
The group also lists studies by the AARP, which illustrate that 15 percent of people who don’t drive make less trips to the doctor, and even more make fewer trips to shop and visit family and friends.
Roger Myers, the president and CEO of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, a senior living agency that serves nearly 30 facilities in the state, said the millage is important for everyone, but especially seniors.
“It affords people more opportunities, it lets people make their plans, and it provides more reliable options,” Myers said. “A lot of times, the seniors can’t even make appointments until they figure out their transportation. It really creates a lot of frustration.”