, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 247–266 | Cite as

Walking to the bus: perceived versus actual walking distance to bus stops for older adults

  • Daniel Baldwin Hess


The walking trip from an origin or destination to a bus stop or transit station can be a barrier to riding transit for older adults (over age 60) who may walk more slowly than others or experience declining physical mobility. This article examines the relationship between transit ridership and proximity to fixed-route transit stations using survey data for older adults in Buffalo and Erie County, New York. Demographic and socio-economic characteristics—including age, sex, race, income, possessing a driver’s license, frequency of leaving home, and personal mobility limitations—are tested but do not display, in bi-variate analysis, statistically significant differences for transit riders versus non-transit riders. However, features of the built environment—including distance (actual and perceived) between home and transit stop, transit service level, population density, number of street intersections, metropolitan location, and neighborhood crime (property and violent) rate—display statistically significant differences for transit riders versus non-transit riders. Both objective and perceived walking distances to access fixed-route transit show statistically significant differences between transit riders and non-transit riders. Average walking distance from home to transit for non-transit riders—who mostly live in suburbs—is three times greater than average walking distance between home and the nearest transit stop for transit riders—who mostly live in the central city. When asked how near a bus stop is to their homes, transit riders slightly overestimate the actual distance, while non-transit riders underestimate the distance.


Older adults Elderly Senior citizens Public transit Access Walking Physical activity 



This research was supported by the Mineta Transportation Institute and the preparation of the manuscript was supported by the University Transportation Research Center. Trixie Johnson and Todd Goldman supported the development of this research. Alex Bitterman, Angelika Breinlich, Kelly Dixon, Sadie Geisler, Beverly McLean, Jiyoung Park, and Samina Raja provided insight.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Architecture and PlanningUniversity at Buffalo, State University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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