Driving is one way to get there, but what if you cannot or do not drive?
A new series of workshops and social marketing campaign examines this question through the eyes of seniors in rural Nova Scotia, with the goal of informing and encouraging the use of transportation options in their communities.
Seniors on Board is a 12-month project funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Seniors Positive Aging Program and operated by five project partners: Community Transit-Nova Scotia (of which CHAD transit in Pictou County is a part), Community Links, Community Wheels in Chester, Kings Transit and Kings Point to Point Transit.
The pilot project was conceived as a way to mentor and support rural seniors in ‘taking the bus’ or using other available options. However, focus groups and research revealed that the low use of transit by seniors was only in part due to lack of awareness. The greater obstacle was fear among seniors of having their driver’s licences taken away.
“A driver’s licence is not just the ability to drive a car; it’s a symbol of independence,” program co-ordinator Sandra Murphy explained. “The fear of losing this independence is so great for some that there is hesitation, even resistance to discussing anything to do with transportation.”
In a survey at the 50-Plus Expo in Halifax this past June, many seniors admit their driving days are numbered but few have a transportation plan for beyond their car. An estimated three in four Nova Scotians age 65 and older have a valid driver’s licence, but driving can be restricted by personal limits: health, poor weather, nighttime, or unfamiliar neighbourhoods. There is also the cost factor: the rising prices of car purchase, maintenance, and gas. Then, there are the seniors who do not drive or own a car.
Seniors on Board will contain two main elements: workshops in the areas covered by the three partner services and a provincial social marketing campaign to support that important transportation conversation and introduce the benefits of available transit options.
Workshops in Kentville on Oct. 17 and the Chester area on Oct. 22 will bring together service providers, organizations, and individuals to discuss transportation issues and options for seniors in those areas. At the end of the project, a workshop kit will be available to organizations wanting to host similar conversations in other communities.
Further information about Seniors on Board is available by contacting