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Study: Seniors' access to transportation

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The Daily

Friday, December 15, 2006

The vast majority of seniors aged 65 and over have access to transportation, either to public transit or a vehicle owned by someone in their household.

However, a new study, published today in Canadian Social Trends, shows that those who have a more immediate access to transportation are much more likely to maintain an active lifestyle, in terms of either just getting out of the house or doing more proactive work such as volunteering.

In 2005, 98% of men aged 65 to 74, and 95% of women, had access to some form of transportation, according to the study, which was based on data from the General Social Survey on time use. Even among older seniors, those aged 85 and over, about 86% had access to either public transit or a household vehicle.

In total, 71% of seniors 65 years and older had a valid driver's license and access to a car. These seniors, who had the most immediate access to transportation, were two times less likely to have remained all day at home on a given day as those who had neither access to public transportation nor to a car.

At the same time, those driving a car were twice as likely to have done a volunteer activity in the year prior to the survey.

As for seniors who lived in a household with a car but did not have a driver's license, and those who had only access to public transportation, they were more likely to have stayed at home all day, compared to those who could drive their car. These seniors were also less likely to have volunteered in the previous year.

The study found that senior women were much more likely to be disadvantaged with respect to transportation, particularly those in older age groups. The same applied to the seniors in lower income groups.

Among the group aged 75 to 84, 83% of men had a license and a car, compared to only 45% of their female counterparts. Among individuals aged 85 and over, 66% of men were able to drive a car, twice the proportion of 33% among women.

The study suggests that this gap will narrow significantly as more women in the baby boom generation turn 65 during the next few years. Baby boom women are more likely to drive a car.

In terms of income, seniors with household income of $20,000 or less were the most limited in getting around. In contrast, 90% of seniors with incomes of $40,000 or more owned a vehicle and also had a valid driver's license, making it much easier for them to get around.

As well, seniors in small town or rural areas were much more likely to be in a vulnerable situation. For them, public transit is not available when their household does not own a car.

The study also found that seniors with university degrees were least likely to stay at home, as were those with large social networks.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4503.

The December 2006 issue of Canadian Social Trends, no. 82 (11-008-XWE, free) is now available online from the Publications module of our website.

The Winter 2006 issue of Canadian Social Trends, no. 82 (11-008-XIE, free), which contains all articles released from August 1, 2006 until today, is now available online from the Publications module of our website. A printed version (11-008-XPE, $24/$39) is also available.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services and Dissemination (613-951-5979;, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.