Project study: More work needed to assist seniors, disabled on transit

man in wheeled device getting off the bus
Peter Beeler

A project aimed at stimulating equity, connection and communication between seniors, the disabled community and Bay Area transit agencies has found riders with challenges do not always have access to reliable and affordable transportation. Too often there isn't effective communication among groups and transit agencies' action is lacking.  

Traditionally, segments of the senior population and people with disabilities are disproportionately low-income, transit-dependent and have more transportation mobility challenges. Transit agencies and planners have often lacked sufficient data and insight into travel needs, preferred modes of transportation, and the vulnerabilities of disabled transit users.

To address the issue, the Transportation Resilience, Accessibility & Climate Sustainability (TRACS) Project was created by a partnership between the World Institute on Disability (WID) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission as a 2.5-year research and community engagement project. 

The TRACS project tasks included demographic and data collection, community engagement, needs assessments, and the development of training webinars for disabled transportation consumers and transportation agencies. The project’s slogan was “Ensuring Access Is Everyone’s Responsibility.”

The TRACS project has now presented recommendations relevant to transit agencies, county transportation agencies, MTC, people with disabilities and their advocates to establish a new model of collaboration in which the communities and transit planners establish long-term partnerships. Project findings, as well as resources and tools, can be found on the WID website.

In 2018, Caltrans awarded a Senate Bill 1 Planning Grant to MTC and WID for the project. While MTC provided fiscal oversight and project support, WID led the project.