Manatee County's free bus rides for 80 and older a huge success

July 27, 2013 

Some public policies shout out success. This is one.

In the full month after Manatee County commissioners approved free bus ridership for seniors age 80 and above, MCAT logged 703 freebies in November 2011. In March 2012, the peak of snowbird season, the figure jumped to 958.

The numbers keep rising. In October 2012, 1,332 super seniors took advantage of the free ride with this past May slightly behind at 1,314.

While a bona fide convenience for super seniors, this serves as a public safety measure, too. While driving allows older Americans freedom of movement and independence, the risk of a motor vehicle accident rises sharply with age. Slower reflex and reaction times; vision and hearing impairment; physical limitations, and medications impair the driving skills of seniors.

MCAT also offers seniors ages 60-79 a discount -- 60 cents instead of the full fare of $1.25.

Since Florida leads the nation in the population of seniors age 65, Manatee County's insightful transit policy should be the envy of other counties. All too few offer free programs for super seniors.

Like Sarasota County.

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