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I was honoured to share the TROUT story and discuss the importance of public transportation as a key component of rural community sustainability at the Frontenac County ICSP Breakfast Meeting on May 22, 2014.
We at TROUT Public Transit look back on 2013 with mixed feelings. We are thankful for the visionaries who support public transportation in our community – the municipal politicians, business owners, and others who know the value of public transportation for our non-driving friends and neighbours and for economic growth. They know that public transportation is a key component of sustainability for rural communities.
We are proud that rural communities throughout North America look to Trout Public Transit for counsel and inspiration for their public transportation initiatives. And we are deeply grateful to the Province of Ontario and Community Care North Hastings for their support and encouragement.
However, we have much work to do. We receive no support from the County of Hastings (future historians may be curious about that) and no support, or only token support, from seven of the eight municipalities we served last year.
Thank you to the Municipality of Highlands East in Haliburton County for your full support in 2013. We look forward to nurturing our relationship with you to address your public transportation needs.
Looking ahead, TROUT Public Transit remains committed to helping people in North Hastings and Highlands East access the goods and services they need to live with independence and dignity in our community.
Also, we will be seeking expanded support from local municipalities and the business community for the economic growth and development potential that a public transportation service offers. The extent of that support will dictate our direction in 2014 and beyond.
John Keith, MA
Manager, Transportation Services
Rural municipalities are beginning to see that public transportation boosts local economies by connecting people to goods, services, and jobs, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of more than 3 to 1 for rural communities not uncommon.
They’re noting that public transportation is of vital importance for attracting prospective new residents – ranked second, right behind adequate healthcare.
And, they are becoming more sensitive to the requirements of their non-driving ratepayers. Public transportation fosters independence and dignity, and it enriches quality of life by providing social and cultural opportunities otherwise restricted to some of their friends and neighbours.
It will be interesting to see how many folks pop in for the hour-long session and what their backgrounds and interests are.
As a former educator, I cannot help but inject an interactive component into the get together to bring out some ideas and perceptions about providing public transportation for an increasing number of non-drivers in rural Ontario communities.
We will discuss benefits of rural public transportation. We’ll identify barriers, with cost right up there at the top of the list, I expect. And we’ll look at ways to address barriers.
I will also provide participants with a brief overview of the TROUT Transit operation, and offer some insights based on research and my experiences as manager of a rural public transportation service.
TROUT Public Transit is in its fourth year of operation serving seven municipalities in rural Hastings County and one municipality in the County of Haliburton. Ridership increased 24% in the last fiscal year, and the need for public transportation in our communities continues to rise.
Hats off to rural Ontario municipalities for their curiosity about public transportation. It’s the first step toward evolving local transportation infrastructures to meet the needs of increasing numbers of non-driving ratepayers, grow local economies, and contribute to a sustainable future.
July 8, 2013
Ontario Government Strengthens Commitment to Public Transit
Ontario is providing $324 million in gas tax funding to 96 municipal transit systems this year.
The funding will help municipalities expand and improve public transit infrastructure, increase accessibility, buy more conventional and specialized transit vehicles, add more routes and extend hours of service.
This year, the Ontario government made its Gas Tax Program permanent to help municipalities improve public transit, ease traffic congestion and reduce air pollution. The change was made as part of the 2013 Budget to provide stability for municipalities and help them plan.
Investing in public transit is part of the Ontario government’s plan to help reduce congestion, strengthen the economy and build a fair and prosperous society.
Ministry of Transportation
Retirement savers are often warned about the impact of health-care and housing costs, but there’s another major expense Americans need to plan for as they age—transportation.
Transportation costs, regardless of income, account for 14% of expenses for retirees, on average, according to the Social Security Administration’s “Expenditures of the Aged Chartbook,” which is based on data from the 2010 Consumer Expenditure Survey Public-Use File.
Now at first glance, that might not seem to be a large expense. After all, housing is at 35%. But after housing, transportation is the average retiree’s second-largest expense in retirement. And it’s an especially big expense and issue for older Americans who live in rural areas and don’t have access to public transportation, according to Joe Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab. He spoke recently (as did I) at the Financial Communication Society’s 5th Annual Education Summit.
So what can you do to tame transportation costs in retirement? Here’s what experts had to say.
How much do you spend on transportation?
The average retiree household spends 14% on transportation, but you might spend more or you might spend less. But you won’t really know until you crunch the numbers. “We always encourage that pre-retirees complete a very comprehensive budget which includes transportation costs so that they are fully prepared when faced with the cost,” said Gavin Morrissey, a senior vice president of wealth management at Commonwealth Financial Network.
Others note how such costs can be budget busters. “Transportation costs can add up for retirees,” said Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies and marketing for Ameriprise Financial. “Those expenses can range from simply getting around town for day-to-day errands to the cost of travel to see family, friends or sites.”
Time to get creative
No matter what you spend on transportation, it’s likely that you take it all for granted. You likely drive to work, to malls and to the movies without thinking twice about it. But that may have to change in the future, or at least it might have to change for those who want to keep their transportation costs in retirement in check.
“It’s time for all of us to be creative about where we drive and how frequently,” said Sandra Timmermann, vice president and director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute.
In the future, Timmermann and others say, retirees and pre-retirees will need to consider planning their trips more carefully, and grouping errands together. They might, for instance, check with neighbors if they just need a few groceries, or take turns with friends driving to the store, going to social events, and the like, Timmermann said.
Like Timmermann, Karen Wimbish, director of retail retirement for Wells Fargo, recommends that retirees and pre-retirees consider carpooling and ride sharing. “Go grocery shopping with friends and share the cost of gas or alternate the use of cars,” Wimbish suggested.
“In the same way that people are sharing housing costs, they may also be able to share transportation expenses,” said Shannon Reid, director of retirement solutions at Raymond James Financial.
So, for example, if you no longer need to have a car to commute to work every day, car sharing or carpooling can become easier options with the more flexible schedule of some retirees, Reid said.
And don’t be shy about looking for carpooling buddies. “If you are commuting to daily or weekly activities like exercise classes or volunteer opportunities, near where you live consider sharing a ride with a friend who is doing the same activities,” said de Baca. “Ask around and you may find that others are also looking for a driving companion.”
And, if you live in the city, consider sharing cab rides.
Who needs two cars anyway?
Retirees should also evaluate whether they need two cars for one household. “With both spouses no longer working there may be more schedule flexibility which may allow for their transportation needs to be met with one vehicle,” said Morrissey.
Wimbish said another way to trim transportation costs—at least for those who are able—is to walk more.
Consider public transportation
If you are planning to retire to another location, consider not only tax rates and climate but also whether there’s public transportation. “Will there be shuttles to places such as grocery stores, church, and shopping centers?” asked Wimbish.
Others share that point of view. “While moving isn’t an option for many people, relocating to an active adult community near amenities or with its own transportation services or to a downtown area where stores and restaurants are within walking distance could be a good choice for a number of reasons,” Timmermann said. “In addition to the benefits of saving money on transportation, being closer to services and near other people is an antidote to social isolation.
De Baca also thinks public transportation is a viable way to cut costs. “Depending on where you live, public transportation can be a convenient and inexpensive way to get around,” she said. “Bus, train, or trolley systems can be safe and offer reasonable fares.”
In addition, de Baca recommends exploring community-sponsored senior transportation. “Some communities offer transportation options to seniors, such as van services or even vouchers or sliding scale fees for public transportation,” she noted.
Plan ahead/shop around
It might seem a bit obvious, but if you’re retired don’t forget to plan ahead for air travel. “Discount airfares are available for those who plan ahead or shop around,” said de Baca. “If you know your travel plans in advance, lock in attractive rates by exploring fare deals or looking for travel packages.”
Also, shop around for car insurance. “If you are still driving a car, consider shopping around for auto insurance,” said de Baca. “You may be surprised at how competitive the marketplace is and be able to shave some cash off your fixed expenses.”
Transportation costs fall over time
There is one other item to consider about transportation costs in retirement. Those costs are likely to fall from 14% of expenses to less than 10% over the course of retirement, as people age and become less mobile. “With retirement, daily transportation needs (such as commuting to work) fall to a great extent, and with increasing age and declining health people become more restricted to the indoors, which cuts entertainment expenses,” wrote Sudipto Banerjee of the Employee Benefit Research Institute in 2012. Read Banerjee’s report, Expenditure Patterns of Older Americans, 2001‒2009.
Median transportation spending in 2010 dollars, and mean percentage:
|Age||Amount||% of total|
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates from the Consumption and Activities Mail Survey, 2001-2009.
Robert Powell is editor of Retirement Weekly, published by MarketWatch. Learn more about Retirement Weekly here. Follow his tweets at RJPIII. Got questions about retirement? Get answers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.