Tupelo, local and state AARP and Mississippi Department of Transportation officials met last week to restart conversations for public transportation in the city, something discussed since 2008. Ivory L. Craig, associate state director for community outreach for the Mississippi chapter of the AARP, attended the meeting and plans to facilitate future discussions in the city about improving transportation for city residents. She answered questions from Daily Journal reporter Robbie Ward about the state AARP’s interest in transportation issues.
Q: Why does the AARP care about community transportation, including public transit, in the communities in the state?
A: AARP works to help Mississippians remain in their preferred community and get where they want and need to go through advocacy, education and outreach. We fight for and equip each individual to live their best life. Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for all as we age.
Q: Why has AARP been so persistent with Tupelo’s efforts for public transportation?
A: AARP has been so persistent with Tupelo’s efforts for community transportation because our local chapter and members reached out to us with an invitation to facilitate this effort. We want to raise our visibility in the area by working with residents on this issue, which can enhance their quality of life. We want to be relevant to our members and potential members.
Q: How do benefits of public transportation, sidewalks and other community transportation options offset financial costs for local governments?
A: There are many benefits to community transportation, to include:
• Active transportation incorporates exercise into one’s daily schedule and eliminates the stress of driving on congested streets.
• Health care costs are reduced when people lead active lifestyles.
• Active transportation provides opportunities for social connections and community building.
• Active transportation increases the tax base because residents and tourists have the means to get where they want and need to go to spend money, whether it is through working, shopping and/or eating.
• Community transportation provides an opportunity to age in place.