Demographic changes make transportation reform more important than everJune 10, 2009
By Andrew Bielak
While it’s hard to predict how our country will change in the coming decades, one thing we can say for sure is that our population won’t look anything like what it does today.
The number of seniors in the U.S. is projected to jump by 36 percent from 2010, outpacing the growth of the overall population by 300 percent. An increase in immigrations will help make the United States a minority-majority country by 2042, with more than 62 percent of children in the U.S. projected to be a member of a minority group by 2050.
To help us look at how these changes will impact our transportation needs, a group of organizations — including Transportation for America, AARP, Association of Population Centers, Population Association of America, Population Resource Center — held a briefing on Capitol Hill Monday entitled Getting Around in 21st Century America: Demographics and the Future of Transportation Policy.
Geoff Anderson of Smart Growth America and Transportation for America, Peter Morrison of the Rand Corporation, and Professor Leobardo Estrada of UCLA’s urban planning department all spoke at the event, laying out in simple terms why our country needs to reform its transportation system, provide people with safer and better options, and help create accessible communities that do not require the use of a car to lead a healthy, satisfying life.
A large portion of immigrants of working age living in the United States do not own a personal automobile — often using public transportation or carpooling to get to work — and need adequate transportation options to contribute to our national economy and carve out their piece of the American dream.
For older Americans, this issue is even more important. As we’ve discussed before, Americans face numerous transportation challenges as they age, from losing the ability to drive in a car-dependent culture, to unsafe or simply non-existent sidewalks, to unavailable or inaccessible public transportation that often keeps people stuck at home. These issues are particularly important in rural and suburban areas, where many immigrants are now moving, and many Baby Boomer Americans plan to age in place
While recent shifts in policy — including a national push towards complete streets and a recognition of the linkage between housing and transportation — are important steps to help keep our changing population mobile, safe, and productive, we need to do a whole lot more. Check out the T4 Blueprint to find some of our specific policies aimed at addressing these issues, and be sure to sign our petition urging Congress to create an accountable, 21st century transportation system.