This article is the last in a series about the towns in Central Massachusetts and how they can attract and retain more seniors. This article reviews the transportation options available to people in these towns. Of course, no one analysis can measure everything and no town, regardless how accessible, will meet every elder’s need. Please feel free to comment about what you see in your town that I may have overlooked in my analysis.
Of all the ways to compare towns, transportation accessibility may be the most challenging. I say this because there are many different modes of transportation and the thoroughness of each mode’s ability to meet the needs of the town’s seniors is too vast to discuss in such a short space. I start off this discussion suggesting that there should be additional research on this topic so that all towns and seniors have more information at their fingertips.
For the purposes of simplicity, this analysis only considers public transportation options that use the roads and rails. Although there may be a significant benefit to having (for instance) an airport in a town, this analysis focuses on everyday transportation needs.
There are three possible transportation options available to those in Central Mass. – commuter rail, bus via the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and bus through the local Council on Aging (COA). There is some overlap between these three options, although for simplicity, they are simply considered as either available or not in each community. Each community is then scored 0-3 depending on the number of options available.
As is customary, I have analyzed the information available for small, medium and larger towns in the Central Mass. area. Knowing that smaller towns cannot compete with larger towns on all metrics, this should “level the playing field” a bit when determining who is doing the most for their elders.
Of the large towns, Worcester clearly gets the nod given that all three primary options are available (COA bus, RTA and Commuter Rail) but also because their bus system is very extensive. Fitchburg and Leominster also have all three options available and have extensive bus systems. Webster and Southbridge should be doing more to help their elders meet transportation needs given that they only have one option available in each town.
Of the medium sized towns (those with between 500 and 20,00 elders), Mendon should be called out for having no transportation options. Southborough and Grafton, with three options each, are to be commended for being very accessible.
The small towns were harder to compare. With one or two options in each town, I went back to the information provided by the Office of Elder Affairs and determined that Bolton and Brookfield both had Councils on Aging that seemed to provide more service than the others. Small towns that clearly need to do more for their elders include: East Brookfield, Hubbardston, Petersham, Phillipston, Princeton and Royalston.
Please feel free to comment on your experiences regarding this analysis. Are there transportation options you think should be considered? Is your town center set up that transportation is less necessary? Please comment and share. Comments can be left online at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com. Thank you for adding your insights.
Marianne Delorey, Ph.D. is the executive director of Colony Retirement Homes. She can be reached at 508-755-0444 or email@example.com and www.colonyretirementhomes.com. Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com