June 16, 2015

Time: 8:00 – 9:30 AM
Location: Enoch Pratt Free Library (400 Cathedral Street)

Pat Bennett, Roxana Beyranvand, Abi Brandriss, Liz Briscoe, Robin Budish, Mary Colleen Buettner, Art Cohen, George Frazier, Tony Green, Henry Green, Reverend Al Hathaway, Mark Heishman, Greg Hinchliffe, Jim Leanos, Phil LaCombe, Mac Maclure, Parker Maclure, Joe Nathanson, Susan Nestadt, Brian O’Malley, Michael Romeo, Jimmy Rouse, Sandy Sparks

Moderator: Mark Heishman, General Manager for Transdev (formerly Veolia) welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the attendees for coming. He then introduced the first guest speaker.

Speaker: Elizabeth (Liz) Briscoe, Executive Director – Action In Maturity (AIM)
Presentation: “Senior Friendly Transportation” – making Baltimore the Best City to Grow Old!

Presentation highlights: Senior Friendly Transportation: It’s role in supporting age friendly cities

Respecting the elderly – “Caring for our seniors is perhaps the greatest responsibility we have.  Those who walked before us have given so much and made possible the life we all enjoy.” – Jon Hoeven

  • The world population is rapidly aging. The WHO Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities aims to promote older people’s inclusion and contribution to community life.
  • The goal is to understand the importance, impact and value of providing senior friendly transportation in Baltimore and its contribution towards making Baltimore the best city to grow old!
  • AIM’s connection to transportation is reaching over 2500 seniors.
  • By 2020, the number of people over 65 is projected to be 54 million or more. These same seniors are going to live an average of 7-10 years after they retire their car keys.
  • By 2050, there will be more older people than children aged 0 – 14 yrs. in the population for the first time in human history. Seniors will represent ¼ of the total urban population, therefore, people are living longer and require more support.
  • According to Milken report (2012), Baltimore is ranked 13th of the top large US cities for successful aging:
    1) Provo, Utah
    2) Madison, Wisconsin
    3) Omaha, Nebraska
    4) Boston, Mass
    5) New York, NY
  • Healthy aging aims to extend healthy life expectancy and quality of life for all people as they age. ‘Active’ refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs, not just the ability to be physically active or to participate in the labor force. ‘Health’ refers to physical, mental and social well-being maintaining autonomy and independence.
  • What is an Age Friendly City?
    1. Housing—Accessible housing that is affordable and barrier-free interior and exterior space
    2. Safe neighborhoods-Low crime rates and emergency preparedness plans that take into account older residents
    3. Healthcare—An adequate number of doctors and hospitals and access to preventative care programs
    4. Supportive service—The presence of home and community-based caregiving support services and the availability of home care, meals-on-wheels, and adult day care
    5. Goods, services and amenities—Shops within walking distance, restaurants and grocery stores offering healthy food choices, Farmers Markets
    6. Social integration—Programs and organizations that promote social activities and intergenerational contact such as places of worship, libraries, museums, colleges and universities
    7. TRANSPORTATION—Mass transit, senior transportation, walkable neighborhoods that are safe for pedestrians, nearby parks and recreation, roads with visible signage, adequate light, and adequate safe intersections
  • Good for Cities – SENIORS can:
    a. Stabilize
    b. Strengthen
    c. Spend
    d. Volunteer
    e. Provide
  • What is ‘Senior Friendly” Transportation (SFT)? The Beverly Foundation in their research learned much about what seniors wanted and needed when they couldn’t drive anymore – The Five A’s:
    1. Availability
    2.  Acceptability
    3. Accessibility
    4. Adaptability
  • Senior Friendly Transportation should be “FAR”:
    a. Flexible
    b. Affordable
    c. Reliable
  • AIM has a long history of developing a senior friendly transportation program that focuses on the needs of seniors who have given up their license to drive (old-old cohort) providing both shuttle and personal transportation.  AIM partners with like-minded organizations which also want to provide transportation services for their clients: CHAI, Catholic Charities, GEDCO, Civic Works, Keswick, and BCHD Division on Aging.
  • Think about SFT when planning, it takes collaboration and coordination from:
    – Urban planners
    – Neighborhood organizations
    – Transportation companies and planners
    – Housing
    – Senior Centers
    – Area Agencies on Aging
    – Elected Government officials

Additional comments:
– Liz stated that AIM was founded under the Greater Homewood Community Corporation in 1973 who felt the need to address the aging population and why transportation is a key issue.
– AIM serves 45 different senior high rise buildings and has adopted a “village” model, neighbors helping neighbors.
– AIM will conduct a survey asking seniors how the lack of an integrated mass transit system impacts their daily lives and how safe they feel taking mass transit.
– The recent MTA bus fare increase (6 ¼%) has resulted in seniors having to pay significantly more than other riders.

Speaker: Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Senior Pastor Union Baptist Church
Presentation: “Why our current transit system is inconvenient for me”

Presentation Highlights:

  • Reverend Hathaway began his presentation by stating that Baltimore once had a very robust transit system, and shared his fond memories of taking the streetcar all over the city with his father at a cost of ten cents. In his later years, he had the opportunity to experience amazing mass transit all over the country such as BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)  in San Francisco where he never needed a car. That particular experience opened his eyes about what a truly efficient rail system was, and could be if implemented in a city like Baltimore. Further, he acknowledged the tremendous growth and development he has seen along rail lines throughout the country. Presently, the Reverend does not take mass transit because it doesn’t meet his needs.
  • Baltimore’s mass transit system is inadequate, and the people it really hurts are those who do not own a car and are dependent on transit. Not having a comprehensive transit system is a huge detriment to our city. There are many disparities in our community, and the one major disparity is transportation.
  • The Union Baptist Church recently held a Jobs fair in partnership with the Giant Food Corporation. It was a successful event resulting in Giant making a commitment to hire 100 employees at $14.00 per hour for their distribution center in Jessup. Given that there is no real mass transit system to get people to Jessup, this remains a huge challenge to overcome.
  • We can, we should, and we must create a world class mass transit system by mustering the political will to make it happen. BWI is a major resource that all transit systems should connect to. Baltimore has an amazing harbor which has potential for enormous traffic, commerce and jobs.
  • The recent Opportunity Collaborative report titled “Baltimore Regional Plan for Sustainable Development” published June 2015 addresses transportation by stating that it has not met our workforce needs. Follow this link to read the full report: http://www.opportunitycollaborative.org/assets/RPSD_Final_June_2015.pdf?ae56d8
  • The Reverend supports the proposed Red Line project, but stated that it has its limitations when it comes to connectivity.
  • Reverend Hathaway concluded his presentation be acknowledging Jimmy Rouse and Robin Budish as forceful advocates with an understanding and realization that our transit system is inadequate.

Additional comments:
– A van pool system could be a viable solution for getting people to jobs at the Giant Food distribution center in Jessup. Additionally, “Vehicles for Change” may also be an organization to contact given their mission to empower families with financial challenges to achieve economic and personal independence through car ownership.
– It is connectivity and accessibility that makes a transit system amazing. Then, cars can become a luxury, and not a necessity.

Discussion Summary:
Meeting attendees were given the opportunity at the conclusion of both presentations, to share their feedback and to provide suggestions, ideas and concerns with the guest speakers. Electronic copies of AIM’s PowerPoint presentation will be made available to the full Transit Choices group.

Jimmy Rouse: thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and acknowledged guest speakers, Liz Briscoe and Reverend Hathaway for their interesting presentations. He then gave an update on recent Transit Choices activities:

  • Whitman Requardt has submitted their Water Transit report to Veronica McBeth, Transit Bureau Chief at City DOT outlining their recommendations for the Baltimore Water Taxi. The report, once it becomes final will be released to the public. Our goal remains to keep pushing a year round system that is part of an overall transit system.
  • The City released the Charm City Circulator (CCC) route changes to be implemented July 20, 2015. To learn more about the changes follow this link: http://www.charmcitycirculator.com/news/2015/jun/public-notice-ccc-route-changes
  • Quarterly meetings will resume with the City, State, MDOT and hopefully new MTA administrator Paul Comfort, to continue discussion about the implementation of the “Quick Hits” and an overall vision for a multi-modal, integrated comprehensive transit system.
  • At a recent Charles Street Development Corporation meeting, Jimmy Rouse asked the following question to City Council members – Carl Stokes, Eric Costello and Mary Pat Clarke: Baltimore’s present transit system is inefficient and unreliable, making it difficult for those dependent on it to get to work or school on time. It also discourages the millennial generation that is increasing, choosing to live without a car from moving into or staying in Baltimore. Do you agree with these statements and if so, what do you propose doing to change our transit system? The collective response was that they were all aware of the inadequacies, but no real vision for improving the system was discussed.
  • Transit Choices needs to work with the City Council on an agenda to improve mass transit and have them buy into a unified vision. Additionally, there needs to be a serious conversation about overhauling our present bus system.
  • In the recent Opportunity Collaborative report “Baltimore Regional Plan for Sustainable Development”, (authored by Mike Kelly – Baltimore Metropolitan Council, Bill Cole – Baltimore Development Corporation, Scot Spencer – Annie E. Casey Foundation) part of the solution to our inner-city problems is to connect people to jobs. This presents an opportunity for Transit Choices to work with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) and the Opportunity Collaborative to improve our transit system. Mike Kelly from the BMC will speak about the report at the Transit Choices meeting on July 15, 2015.