Metro riders program helps familiarize senior citizens with public transportation in LA County

Phillip Palmer Image
Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Riders program helps familiarize seniors with public transportation
Metro's On the Move riders program, comprised of 32 clubs throughout Los Angeles County, helps familiarize senior citizens with public transportation.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Navigating LA Metro can be a challenge for those unfamiliar with the choices or overwhelmed by how many people use mass transit.

For older adult travelers, Metro's On the Move riders program consists of 32 clubs across Los Angeles County that hope to instill confidence to travel by providing one-on-one, or group, travel training.

"Wherever older adults are, we look for those motivated, active, curious folks to lead our clubs and we train them, and they sort of help people learn the basics of riding," said Lilly Ortiz, a Metro spokeswoman.

Tim Roberts has been a designated travel buddy for four years, one of Metro's volunteers who plans trips for his group once a month.

"He keeps us from having to sit at home watching 'Beverly Hillbillies,'" said Rose Fishkind.

Trips like a recent visit to All Chill in Leimert Park are a way to see more of Los Angeles, but also an opportunity to help people like Rose and other members of Roberts' group become more confident transit riders.

"Well, a lot of our neighbors had known about Metro but never tried it," Roberts told ABC7. "They didn't realize that things were so accessible and so close by."

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The hope is that, by learning to use the system in these small groups with their peers, eventually these seniors will be able to use the buses and trains all on their own.

"Just removing those barriers that people -- they maybe imagined, not necessarily factual -- the clubs really allow them to see with their own eyes: 'Oh, OK. It isn't that bad and I can do this,'" Ortiz said.

Each group is comprised of 10-15 people, led by 46 volunteers who offer safety education and informational transit tours -- seniors teaching seniors how to have fun in L.A. instead of in a car.

"It's fun to go to new places, especially in your second half of life where you might think it's dangerous to go out or something -- it's not. It's fun," Fishkind said.

"We're learning about these things and experiencing on the same level," Roberts said. "We have the reference point of our neighborhood to start out from so it's a shared experience and becomes quite exciting, but so convenient and so fun and so doable."