Transit options free seniors from the angst of gas prices, GPS technology, driven drivers


The norm should be a graduated exiting from the licensed population

One way that today’s seniors are exercising their independence, their concern for their own and others’ safety, fiscal realities or possibly family pressure to hand over the keys, is to embrace the car-free life. For the car-free there are great plusses matched by some obvious negatives, most keenly experienced in the perceived limits on daily routines that ensure healthy and happy independent living.

The car-free life can put a screeching halt to daily routines. Seniors find themselves cut off from the essentials, particularly as health care facilities, churches, and grocery stores disappear from the neighborhood. Just as important to a rich and affirming life is the chance to participate in the fun stuff –family gatherings and grandchildren’s graduations, the coffee klatch, the golf course or the health spa, the library, the hairdresser, the ladies or boys lunch out, an OLLI class or to volunteer.

Kay Anderson, Executive Director of Northeast Senior Services, 2580 Kenzie Terrace, Minneapolis, can spot a problem – and a solution – when she sees it. As is her way, she takes action. In this case, the result is a comprehensive guide to the transportation options of which many seniors and their families may not be aware. Her guide to locally accessible transit options is a prime example of a community-based response to mobility barriers that encumber, isolate, and distress seniors in the neighborhoods served by NES.

Preparation of the guide involved making connections and phone calls, exploring and evaluating options, and carefully defining the service area of each provider. The results are posted in the most Late Spring 2012 issue of Northeast Senior Newsletter. Each item is well annotated with details about area service, reservations, fares, schedules and more.

Meanwhile, here are the transportation links Kay has checked out. Though services and service areas vary, the scope of the list focuses on the NE Seniors neighborhood – NE and SE Minneapolis, St Anthony Village, New Brighton, Columbia Heights as well as services that reach target populations throughout the metro area.

Kay adds some practical suggestions about funding possibilities:

  • Check your health care plan/provider about transportation options
  • Check the American Cancer Society website for a list of organizations that provide rides for cancer patients
  • Check with the county case or health care provider for benefits in Medical Assistance or Elderly Waivers for benefits that cover transportation

This excerpted outline is the tip of the iceberg. Click, call or check with NES to see if there may be a few extra copies of the newsletter – better yet, learn about joining NES so you will have access to the wealth of information, programs and services this under-staffed community resource is providing. (612 281 5096 or

A personal note — What the guide doesn’t address and what this seasoned bus rider would add is that public transit experience offers a unique and awesome opportunity for lifelong learning – about people (some obnoxious, most generous and gentle – all interesting), about neighborhoods you’d never veer from the highway to visit, about the fortitude that people with disabilities demonstrate en route to their jobs, schools or to the library to do some research, and about the ways in which bus drivers give public service a good name by exercising unstinting grace under pressure.