It isn’t surprising that travel on The RIDE has plummeted since fare hikes were imposed on elderly and disabled riders (“The Ride less ridden after increase in fare,” Page A1, Feb. 2). An analysis based on the Elder Economic Security Standard Index found that Massachusetts elders “struggle with the nation’s largest shortfall between income and costs, with median income covering about 60 percent of basic expenses.” Thousands of elders in The RIDE service area are unable to cover essential expenses. The increases make it even tougher.
The Elder Index, developed by the University of Massachusetts Boston Gerontology Institute and Washington-based Wider Opportunities for Women, is used by the Washington organization’s state partner, the Massachusetts Association of Older Americans, for advocacy. Tabulating current local data to determine the amount of income elders need to meet basic expenses, the index provides the “economic security gap” — the difference between what they need and a typical elder’s income. It helps us understand whether public policy strengthens or weakens elders’ economic security.
Governor Patrick has emphasized that transportation is about quality of life, economic activity, and opportunity. We agree. The Elder Index can help move Massachusetts toward a fare structure that facilitates the use of public transportation and preserves opportunities for elderly and disabled people to engage in community life.