Transport infrastructure and planning in NSW needs an overhaul to better accommodate the needs of older Australians according to the NRMA.
According to a survey conducted by the state’s motoring club, two thirds of people aged between 60 and 70 have not considered alternative transport options if they are no longer able to drive.
At the same time, 23 per cent of NRMA members who require mobility assistance have trouble accessing public transport in their local area.
The biggest issues with public transport for older survey respondents included the fear of crowds, security issues and the risk of falling.
The NRMA’s president, Wendy Machin expressed particular concern about the future transport needs of seachange and treechange retirees who are moving to regional areas with fewer transport options.
She said the southeast of NSW is projected to have a 134 per cent increase in the number of older people, compared to an 83 per cent increase in greater Sydney.
“It’s not a problem in the early years of retirement when people are active and independent but as they get older and more frail, it will become a real issue,” she said.
“As a community, we need to inform people who are planning their retirement so that they understand just how important thinking about getting around is.”
The NRMA is calling for new stratgeies to help older people stay on the road and to provide better information about transport options.
It would also like to see longer walking times at crossings, longer waiting times for buses and trains and more traffic lights dedicated to right-hand turns.
NSW Transport Minister, John Robertson said the mobility needs of older people was one of the biggest issues facing governments all around the country.
“Public transport is critical in making sure that older people have access to the community,” he said.
The state government has invested $50 million this year in making train stations more accessible, Mr Robertson said.
NSW has also developed an online service to inform passengers with mobility issues about the availability of seats on train services.
But the opposition’s transport spokesperson, Gladys Berejiklian said many older people would not be able to access the service.
“Not all of them are internet savvy and not all of them have access to computers at home,” she said.