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Older Adults Rarely Use Public Transportation, Study Finds

Update Date: Jul 28, 2014 10:22 AM EDT

Knowing how to use public transportation can make life easier. In a new study, researchers examined how older adults, who might have more difficulties running errands, utilized public transit. The team conducted their study in St. Louis, MI and discovered that older adults rarely used public transit.

In this study, the team headed by J. Aaron Hipp, PhD, an assistant professor at the Brown School, reviewed the results from a survey that reached 772 adults living in St. Louis in 2012. The survey asked for people's perceptions on built environment, which covers parks, greenways and other types of infrastructure, level of physical activity and transportation habits.

The team found that people who were older than 60 were less likely to use public transportation for five or more days within the last week when compared to people who were in the age group to 18 to 29. Younger people who are employed were more likely to use public transit. People who used public transportation were more likely to meet the physical activity requirements.

People who did not use public transportation frequently stated that they were turned off by it because of speeding traffic and high crime rates. The researchers stated using public transportation is tied to increases physical activity levels. Since exercise is important for overall health, the researchers believe that the public transit system should be revised to make it easier for older adults to use it. Some of the changes the researchers recommended were improved light, better signs and reduced speed limits.

"Older adults deserve a mix of transportation options, including public transit, which gets them to destinations and services that can encourage their independence," doctoral student Marissa Zwald said according to Medical Xpress. "Policies such as Safe Routes to Transit and incentives for public transit can encourage older adults, and people of all ages, to use public transportation."

The study, "Correlates of Walking for Transportation and Use of Public Transportation Among Adults in St Louis, Missouri, 2012," was published in the journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.

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