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T4 America will address Senate panel on senior transit access

Transportation for America Director James Corless will testify before a key Senate panel this week about the need for better and expanded transit options for seniors.

The Wednesday hearing of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development comes on the heels of T4 America’s recent finding that 15.5 million older Americans will live in communities with poor or non-existent public transit by 2015. Aging in Place, Stuck without Options, was covered in dozens of states and generated widespread discussion.

The chairman of Senate Banking, South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson, has already shone a spotlight on senior transit needs, particularly in sparser communities like those in his home state. The subcommittee is chaired by New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez, who has consistently championed transportation options and investment in mass transit.

According to an E&E report on the hearing, Corless will be joined by Lee Hammond, president of AARP, Steve Fittante, executive director of Middlesex County Area Transit in Menendez’s hometstate of New Jersey and Mary Leavy, assistant vice president of the Easter Seals Transportation Group.

The top Republican on the Subcommittee, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, invited Cato Institute fellow Randal O’Toole, who has made his views on senior transit access abundantly clear: “so what?” As Jason Plautz reported in E&E this morning:

O’Toole published a blog post questioning the report, noting data from the American Public Transportation Association that found that 6.7 percent of transit trips are taken by seniors.

“Those baby boomers who prefer transit over driving can do what everyone else does who prefers one set of services over another: locate to where the services they prefer are the greatest. In the case of transit riders, that generally means dense central cities,” O’Toole said, accusing Transportation for America of being “largely a shill for the transit industry.”

You can read T4’s response to O’Toole here.

The hearing will commence Wednesday, June 29 at 2pm in Room 548 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. We’ll have a wrap on the hearing here.