Saturday, April 9, 2011

Transportation patterns of homeless population in Fort Myers

Report by Ann Pierce:

On March 11th the Transportation Disadvantaged Subcommittee of the MPO, met. Data was presented profiling the transportation patterns of the homeless population in Fort Myers. The data had been collected, as part of the census, through the office of Lee County Homeless Coalition whose Executive Director is Janet Bartos.

A total of 818 individuals were surveyed. Of these, 260 held valid driver’s licenses. As a group, the listed primary modes of transportation were as follows:
• 13.8% Bike
• 22.4% Bus
• 12.4% Own car
• 15.5% Walking
• 4.3% Ride with others
• 13% Other
234 persons indicated that they used transit at some point, with 21% of those saying they rode the bus three or more times per week.

The vast majority of this population is white, non-Hispanic, single, non-veteran, and unemployed. All were homeless or at risk of imminently becoming so. This group was rather evenly split by gender with 402 males and 416 females.

Destinations were varied with the most frequent being; grocery store, church, and doctor. Next most frequent were; employment search, AA meetings, services such as soup kitchens, Salvation Army, Goodwill, Veterans Services, and least often - work.
Subjective commentary regarding the hazards encountered, indicated traffic, bad drivers and fear of attack of some sort to be the most frequently cited. Problems with weather and police were also frequently reported.

The last category of information solicited was commentary regarding their unmet needs for transportation. By far, the most frequently cited all centered on public transit, with the desire for bus passes being the single greatest need expressed. Next, were more routes, shorter times between buses and closer bus stops. This was followed by requests for more and/or better sidewalks.

BikeWalkLee endorses the initial gathering of this census data and a continuation of such in future years, as well as incorporation into the county’s Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), to be adopted by the MPO Board on May 20th.

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