Keeping seniors mobile

A Feb. 7 Christian Science Monitor article describes an innovative program in Portland, Maine, where seniors donate their cars to a program and use the money to pay for rides 24/7. The program is the Independent Transportation Network (ITN) that began in Portland in 1995. It is now expanding nationwide.
With 78 million baby boomers nearing retirement, local and state leaders are scrambling to devise transportation alternatives for seniors. The goal? Get them off the road when they no longer should drive, yet keep them integrated in their communities.
Legislation on the state and federal levels is beginning.

In 2005 Connecticut passed two laws which included provisions to promote elder transportation. In PA 05-280, section 55 provides for grants to municipalities or nonprofit organizations to develop financially self-sustaining transportation systems for seniors, and directs that any municipality receiving a grant "shall, to the extent practicable," model such system on the ITNAmerica model. In PA 05-4 (Special Session), section 39 provides for matching grants to municipalities for "elderly and disabled demand responsive transportation programs." The transportation services are to be available to persons 60 or older. Half of the funding formula is based on the share of persons in the municipality 60 or older, the other half on land area.

Also in 2005 Maine passed PL 71 which makes it easier for nonprofits to allow seniors to trade in their cars for transportation services.

In Congress, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) plans to introduce the "Older Americans Sustainable Mobility Act." This too is based on ITNAmerica. The act would provide seed money and matching funds to develop sustainable senior transportation systems.


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