Most of us take for granted that we can wake up each day, get in our car, drive to work, drive home, drive to the grocery store or to a movie, and get wherever we want to go. But for some of us, the time will come when we can no longer drive and we must give up the keys.
The loss of a vehicle can often lead to cases of isolation, which causes a decrease in physical activity and mental engagement. People are no longer able to participate in everyday activities like visiting friends, going to social events or church because they no longer have a way to get there. Individuals can’t rely on friends and family to make up the difference because they have their own lives and schedules.
For these individuals, public transportation will provide a vital role in keeping older adults connected and engaged in their communities.
That is why it is critical that the state of New Mexico take a more active role in funding public transportation. New Mexico has long been a car-centered state, and our wide expanses of rural areas make establishing a viable public transportation system both daunting and expensive. But it is time to make such systems more of a priority. We cannot continue to rely solely on federal and local dollars to fund public transportation. Public Transportation in New Mexico is funded by three sources: federal, state and local. We are missing the state. The state of New Mexico does not allocate general fund money into transportation, and it’s time for the state to step up and act as a partner in public transit, along with the federal and local government partners.
Having worked for AARP for 34 years, I am a passionate advocate for public transportation in New Mexico. AARP believes that in order for a community to be more livable – a place people can live and grow as they age – providing good public transportation is a key component.