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Urban transportation, Transportation -- Planning, Older people -- Transportation, Local transit accessibility -- Evaluation


Mobility disparities among older adults affect their ability to travel and access services. This project seeks to understand challenges, barriers, and gaps that older adults experience, and develop forms of assistance or educational strategies to fill the varying mobility gaps and meet mobility needs. This study characterizes older adults’ use of existing and potential transportation options, including conventional transit, paratransit, and ride-hailing systems, based on surveys collected from 146 low-income older adults in Dallas, TX. Using the survey data and interview data, we develop two mathematical modeling (a Latent Class Cluster Analysis and agent-based modeling (ABM)) and conduct content analysis to understand low-income older adults’ mode choice decisions, adoption likelihoods based on their barriers to existing mobility options, and socioeconomic characteristics. Three primary personas are identified as the voice of the most vulnerable non-driver, community-dwelling older adults. The quantitative mapping of their needs to the transportation options available to them (public transit, paratransit, taxi, ride share, and rides with family and friends) indicates that none of the existing options meets all of their mobility needs. Through the interviews during the pandemic, the research team found that both drivers and non-driver older adults reduced their trip frequency and depended on family and friends for essential needs. In particular, older adults developed their fear of using public transit and paratransit because they were concerned about other passengers not maintaining social distance. One of the noticeable differences is that older adults started to use ride-hailing services and some even preferred it to public transit. Perceptual and knowledge barriers appear to be reduced to adopt ride-hailing although financial and technology barriers still exist. Based on the findings, we discussed several strategies that can potentially reduce observed barriers and challenges and enhance mobility to ultimately increase social equity across transportation-disadvantaged populations, particularly among low-income older adults.


This is a final report, NITC-RR-1304 from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University.

The project page can be found online at:

Project Brief associated with this research.

Data Files associated with this research: 10.15760/TREC_datasets.17



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