For Immediate Release
For More Information:
College Students and Senior Citizens need More Public Transportation in Massachusetts
Worcester, Nov. 3 – Students, seniors, elected officials, and representatives from the Worcester RTA gathered today in Worcester Union Station to call for more and better public transportation that serves college students and senior citizens outside of Boston in historically underserved areas.
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 organizer Ethan Davis.
“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.
“I’m missing out on lots of opportunities because I just can’t get to and back from places with the current transportation options” says Cherie O’Connor, a Worcester senior.
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.
“While the RTA’s are grateful to receive level funding for the state, we must work together to seek new revenue streams to match demand as we move forward,” says Worcester Regional Transit Authority Administrator Stephen O’Neil.
“I prefer to ride the bus because its better for the environment and parking is really expensive, but I wish it were easier to ride the bus. It comes infrequently and is always crowded,” says Jackie Cournoyer, a junior at Worcester State University.
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” says Davis.