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New Report Shows How College Students and Senior Citizens Need More Public Transportation in Massachusetts
Boston—MASSPIRG’s new report, “Common Connections: The Importance of Public Transportation for College Students and Seniors” brings together two unlikely partners – college students and senior citizens. The report identifies the unique benefits that public transportation provides students seniors, their families, and the Commonwealth as a whole.
“Public transportation is a lifeline for Massachusetts’ students and seniors, providing access to jobs and economic opportunity, saving money, and making the Commonwealth a safer and more attractive place to live,” said MASSPIRG Consumer Associate Micaela Preskill
“Seniors in Massachusetts want to remain active in their communities. Investing in safe transportation options now is essential for the health of the commonwealth, especially as Baby Boomers age,” said Deborah Banda, state director of AARP Massachusetts, which represents more than 800,000 members age 50 and older in the Bay State.
Among other benefits, public transportation helps students and seniors stay independent, reducing the burden on parents, children and other caregivers to provide rides to classes, jobs or medical appointments.
The report features stories of college students and senior citizens throughout Massachusetts who rely on public transportation to get where they need to go. “For sixty years I drove everywhere I went. Now, I can’t drive but I use public transportation so I can keep my freedoms,” said Doris Carlson, an 83-year-old woman living in Acton, MA.
Massachusetts’ regional transit authorities (RTAs) provide an important service for students and seniors, who make up a sizeable share of their costumer base. Over half a million college students and seniors are served by the Commonwealth’s RTAs.
Funding constraints are preventing the RTAs from achieving their full potential. In the past decade, many RTAs have had to cut service and/or raise fares because of insufficient support from the state. “Lack of sufficient operating funding has made it very difficult to fully meet the needs of students ands seniors throughout Massachusetts,” said Executive Director of Massachusetts Association of Regional Transit Authorities Jeannette Orsino.
"Public transit is so vital to being a student. We have to pay for the cost of parking in addition to the cost of owning a car and paying for school. I wish it were easier to ride the bus, but it comes infrequently and is always crowded" says Hannah Hutchinson, a student at UMass Boston.
Demand for public transportation among students and seniors is on the rise. Just as today’s young people are increasingly seeking new transportation alternatives, the Bay State is projected to house 600,000 more seniors in 2030 than in 2000.
To serve growing demand among students and seniors, MASSPIRG’s report calls for increased revenue for public transportation over the long-term and urges the Commonwealth to explore ways to have universities and other public and private institutions support transit infrastructure.
“The time has come for Massachusetts to reinvest in its public transportation systems that serve students and seniors,” said Preskill.
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