McMaster transportation study seeks feedback from older immigrants living in Hamilton – Hamilton

Researchers at McMaster University are soliciting input from older immigrants in Hamilton with the goal of improving transportation services and removing barriers that prevent them from using public transit.

The study hopes to receive input from anyone 55 and older living in Hamilton who has immigrated to Canada in the past decade, but only a handful of people have shared their experiences so far.

Shaila Jamal, a fourth-year doctoral candidate, said that at first they only appealed to public transit users, but they expanded their criteria to include those who don’t use it to to determine why this is the case and what could be done to encourage them. use public transportation.

“The transit system here is different from other countries, especially if someone is from Asia,” Jamal said.

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She said seniors may experience physical limitations or language barriers that prevent them from accessing public transit, as well as a lack of familiarity with technology.

“We want to explore why or how these people use public transport and what barriers and challenges they face – and not just using public transport, but also getting around the city. What are their experiences and what challenges do they face when it comes to autonomous mobility?

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The study is supervised by Dr. Bruce Newbold, professor of geography at McMaster’s School of Earth, Environment and Society.

He points out that the limited engagement of their target group has likely been affected by the pandemic, which has already had a greater impact on the use of public transport in general.

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“It probably also reduced the population who (Jamal is) interested in talking to, their use of public transport services as well, even though we know that newcomers are often very dependent on the use of public transport services. .”

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Of those who signed up for the study, Jamal said two of them were DARTS users, but because they ran into barriers trying to use the service – which cannot be reserved. than online or by calling a phone number – they ended up having younger parents. to lead them, which took away their independence.

Two other respondents said they had tried taking the bus around Hamilton, but encountered physical difficulties getting to bus stops as well as language barriers.

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Newbold said they’ve partnered with the city and the HSR to ensure their findings are used to really improve public transit for a growing population in Hamilton.

“We have an aging population and we have a growing immigrant population,” Newbold said. “So providing improved transit services, it’s extremely important for people to have access to the city, to be able to go out to shop, to socialize, to their appointments. We know it’s a very important part of their health.

In a statement, the city’s director of public transit, Maureen Cosyn Heath, said improving public transit for this segment of Hamilton’s population is part of the “(Re)envision the HSR” initiative. .

“Newcomers represent a significant proportion of our traffic today and this research will help us understand their unique needs, to inform our future strategies,” Cosyn Heath wrote.

“By focusing on the unique needs and experiences of newcomers, we can develop strategies to make it easier for them to access the information they need about our service, understand our schedules, and ultimately make transportation by common their first choice for their transportation needs.

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Once they get enough responses, Jamal said the next step in the research will be to speak with service providers like HSR and organizations that work with older people to get their perspective on the challenges faced. older newcomers face.

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The final phase will be to organize a workshop that will allow all stakeholders to sit down and discuss how to make improvements to transport services that will allow older newcomers to easily move around the city.

For all of this to happen, Jamal said they needed to hear from more people.

Anyone who meets the criteria for the study – 55 or older, immigrated to Canada within the past 10 years, and lives in Hamilton – is encouraged to contact Jamal by calling 902-412-7870 or emailing him at : jamals16@mcmaster. California.

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