Transportation for Seniors (T4S): Developing a New Accessibility Measure to Support Older Adults in a Post-Pandemic World

Andy Hong, University of Utah

Co-investigator:

Summary:

Accessibility plays a fundamental role in the day-to-day lives of individuals. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the gross inequality in older people’s accessibility to health care and essential services. Months of staying inside, with limited social interactions, reduced opportunities for physical activity, and limited access to health and social care has accelerated the aging process for large numbers of older people and taken a huge toll on their physical and mental health. Furthermore, older people have unique mobility challenges as they typically experience loss of mobility, for example, when they restrict their walking or driving due to physical or cognitive decline associated with aging. Older adults who do not drive or live in places with limited public transportation services are isolated and disadvantaged. Although older people’s accessibility may be substantially different from the general population, common practices in transportation planning use a relatively simple measure of accessibility centered around healthy, able-bodied individuals, lacking consideration of older people’s unique vulnerabilities. This project aims to develop a new measure of accessibility for older adults by adopting more nuanced approaches to understanding accessibility based on older people’s perceptions and circumstances. We achieve this goal by 1) creating a perception-based accessibility score that captures heterogeneity in older people’s characteristics and perceptions (perceived measure); 2) developing a data-driven accessibility measure by leveraging widely adopted methods, such as gravity and cumulative opportunity scores (objective measure); and 3) proposing a hybrid measure of accessibility by integrating the perceived and objective measures, and validating this new measure through focus groups involving older adults and community representatives in the region. This research will contribute significantly to our understanding of accessibility from the perspective of older adults and help decision makers integrate equity into the future policy framework while helping to address older adult’s unique mobility challenges in a post-pandemic world.

Project Details

Project Type:
Research
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
December 31,2022
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Round 5
UTC Funding:
$75,000