Opinion: Irvine Connect Leaves Seniors and Disabled Residents Out of the Loop

Irvine Connect is a fantastic concept! I wish I had access to Irvine Connect services. I could get to Senior Centers, libraries, my bank, go shopping, and go to the Spectrum to shop, eat lunch out, and then relax while enjoying a movie.

Irvine badly needs an Irvine-circulation-only public transportation service.  However, I question the idea that the current route is directed to serving the residents that are most in need of the services, and therefore most likely to use it.

The current route appears to be destination-based rather than being oriented toward meeting the transportation needs of the residents most in need of the services and thus are the most likely customers for Irvine Connect. The most probable customer base is likely to consist of seniors, members of the disabled community and low-income housing residents that either do not own a car or find automobile transportation unaffordable. Many senior communities and affordable housing units (which have many senior and disabled residents) are located near Culver between Michelson and Campus, along Harvard Avenue, and into the IBC.

I live at Regents Point, where a majority of the over 300 independent-living residents do not own cars, use canes and walkers, and depend on transportation services for shopping, medical appointments, entertainment, and intellectual stimulation.  A number of other senior communities are located on Harvard Avenue just down the street from Regents Point. There is no public transportation for us to Senior Centers, public libraries, movie theaters and shopping malls, leaving senior and disabled residents isolated and feeling that they are being deprived of intellectual and entertainment stimulation, and thus are being denied a reasonable quality of life.

Irvine residents receive many emails and catalogues from the City advertising activities and events taking place throughout the City. Irvine provides catalogues listing the activities taking place at Irvine’s Senior Centers, and the activities available for members of Irvine’s disabled community yet there is no convenient and affordable public transportation that is needed to access the activities geared for these communities.

OCTA ACCESS requires reservations made ahead of time.  ACCESS services are not available for seniors and disabled residents that do not live within a mile of an OCTA bus stop. The newer villages and planning areas lack the OCTA bus stops to give residents access to OCTA ACCESS services. Trips services for seniors and the disabled require advance scheduling of rides and are thus not convenient to use for outings. The iShuttle is geared for taking residents and out-of-town employees arriving at the train station to their places of employment in Irvine’s business centers. Uber and Lyft are anything but affordable for seniors, the disabled, and low-income residents.

On behalf of Irvine seniors, disabled, and low-income residents, I ask that we all be brought into the Irvine Connect route system.

For more information on iConnect: Irvine CONNECT | City of Irvine

To read more about proposed transit systems in Irvine: Opinion: A Vision for Irvine Transit