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WASHINGTON - U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl, D-Wis., announced several provisions from his legislation, the Senior Transportation and Mobility Improvement Act, were enacted today as part of a bipartisan transportation and student loan bill. The provisions strengthen the public transportation options for seniors and people with disabilities.

"With a rapidly aging population, we must be prepared to meet the changing transportation needs of older Americans," Kohl said. "There are few alternatives to driving, particularly in small towns and rural communities. As the number of older people rapidly increases, so will their mobility needs."

Kohl's provisions would provide states with greater flexibility to use the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Section 5310 program funds to assist with the costs of operating vehicles, such as insurance, rising fuel costs and driver compensation.  The Section 5310 program helps states to meet the transportation needs of seniors and people with disabilities where public transportation options are unavailable.  The provisions would also expand the transparency of Section 5310 programs through new reporting standards and would require that states coordinate their Section 5310 program with transportation services offered under the Older Americans Act.

The Senior Transportation and Mobility Improvement Act (S.1942) has been endorsed by: AARP, B'nai B'rith International, Easter Seals, Jewish Federations of North America, LeadingAge, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities, National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, National Council on Aging, OWL The Voice of Midlife and Older Women, Partners for Livable Communities, and Transportation for America. 

A summary of the provisions from S. 1942 follows:

  • Authorizes states to use their Section 5310 allocations to assist with the costs of operating vehicles or other capital assets acquired through the Section 5310 program at an increased federal match.
  • Requires states to coordinate their Section 5310 program with transportation services offered under the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Older Americans Act, as part of the Coordinated Public Transit Human Services Transportation Plan.
  • Requires FTA to track data from the Section 5310 program on an annual basis including the number of vehicles purchased and number of rides provided.