Twin Cities transportation a cinch for the able-bodied

Cars, buses, bikes, cabs, limos, skateboards, walking.

Not a problem for those of us with strong legs or a fat wallet.

Quite a different story for people pinching pennies and not so stable on their pins.

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That’s the situation for south Minneapolis resident Delores Alvous, 82, getting help from Nokomis Health Seniors volunteer driver Zan Ceeley. They’re on their way to a health clinic check-up for Delores, a weekly event.

The Twin Cities response is a transit network with Metro Mobility for people with disabilities (at a cost of about $41 million a year) and Transit Link, the seven county-wide dial-a-ride service (about $6.6 million a year), where a majority of the customers are older folks.

The problem is these mostly affordable services are stretched, and still cost a bit of money – up to $8 for a round trip.

Then, there’s often a wait.

And some of the service is curb to curb, not door to door, so there can still be a walk. Not always a workable equation for people who need assistance.

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Nonprofits have stepped in, offering van services and supplementing with volunteer drivers. But, as one transportation coordinator says, vans are expensive to own and operate, and volunteers are short lived, typically donating their time for about three months before moving on.

Not the case, by the way, for Zan Ceeley, who’s hung in there for two years and is still going strong.

Our Twin Cities living habits hinder easy answers to transit.

As one East Coast transplant notes, Minnesotans are culturally opposed to density. We like our elbow room.

The result is a very large metropolitan area, and not much density anywhere except the core cities. Not very cost efficient for transit.

Instead, we have a robust car culture with a highly developed and extremely expensive to maintain road system.

One solution is to have more older residents live closer together, and that’s happening. But survey upon survey shows folks prefer to stay in their home as they get older.

Let The Cities know your ideas for ways to help our older population get around.