Age-Friendly Transportation Planning to facilitate safe and efficient mobility of rural older adults
Dr. Trevor Hanson’s research is addressing the long-standing issues facing rural older adults that can’t or don’t drive by exploring the technical and policy challenges that limit mobility solutions.
While there has been much debate on limiting driving due to the health effects of aging, we also need important conversations around how to help older adults maintain mobility in a way that ensures their needs are met. Friends and family are often the number one choice for non-driving older adults looking for transportation alternatives, yet they may not always be in a position to provide transportation. The mobility challenge is further compounded for those living in rural areas where few, if any, public transportation options exist, and when services are centralized in urban areas.
He believes that member-based volunteer driver programs are a missing piece in the rural transportation tool-kit: they replicate the friends and family experience, are cost effective in serving rural areas, and have demonstrated success in helping serve older adult populations, among others, with limited automobile access. The challenge is that there is limited technical guidance to help develop, sustain and grow these programs at a time when it could be expected demand for these services by older adults will grow. By studying successful programs through an engineering lens, Dr. Hanson aims to develop the tools necessary to help predict ridership and volunteer supply, quantify success factors as organizations develop, as well as identify locations which could be good candidates for launching new programs. A better understanding of these programs can help incorporate them into transportation planning, help provide options for rural older adults looking to transition from driver to passenger, and help overall enhance mobility and safety.
Trevor Hanson, PhD, P.Eng is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at UNB and a member of the UNB Transportation Group, where he maintains an active teaching, research and service portfolio in transportation engineering and planning. He has served on various local, provincial, national and international organizations, including as a current board member of the Canadian Transportation Research Forum, and co-chair of the U.S. Transportation Research Board’s ABE060 Accessible Transportation and Mobility Research Subcommittee. He is an award-winning educator, having won the Eric Garland Excellence in Teaching Award as selected by the students of UNB Civil Engineering, and has been recognized with a “Young Professional Achievement Award” by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick. He is also a Dobbin Scholar of the Ireland-Canada University Foundation, and a Fellow of the Eno Transportation Foundation of Washington D.C.