The elderly and handicapped population and their potential as a market for Tren Urbano
AdvisorVélez Arocho, Jorge I.
CollegeCollege of Business Administration
DepartmentDepartment of Business Administration
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Puerto Rico is preparing for the Tren Urbano (TU), a modern 21st Century system of transportation. Tren Urbano is about to become part of a new era in public transportation on the Island: the “Alternativa de Transporte Integrado” or ATI. Marketing strategies development represents a priority for the TU in order to persuade people’s usage. In this case, this research focuses on the elderly and handicapped population. To suit the selected population needs, TU future facilities will need to ease these people’s access to the different stations, offering them freedom of movement from one place to the others, fulfilling at the same time their sense of independence. Thereby it is imperative for the TU system to become an option for the elderly and handicapped population considering their limited physical mobility. This investigation has been divided in two stages. The main objective for both stages is to distinguish the potential of the elderly and handicapped population as a ridership market for TU. Stage I identifies valuable ideas used in Saint Louis, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. for attracting elderly and handicapped to use their systems. Communities besides the TU alignment were also studied, identifying Las Lomas, Domenech, Hato Rey and Sagrado Corazón Stations as the stations with the largest concentration of elderly and handicapped. TU system addresses the elements of the ADA requirements; to this regard the system is completely barriersfree. However, to the TU system to be effective it needs to focus attention on the development of effective marketing strategies on this market segment behalf. Stage II studies the perceptions of the elderly and handicapped population regarding TU. This research shows that the selected population could become future potential users of the system. Updated information is an essential tool for the elderly and handicapped to improve people’s misconceived perception about TU system. It is necessary to promote the use of ATI and TU and only promote Paratransit Service for people with disabilities who are not able to ride fixed-route public transportation due to their physical dependency. Introducing the ATI and TU transportation system to elderly and handicapped requires the appropriate marketing strategies and implementation plan. Some recommendations in this research are: public involvement, TU facilities improvements, transit staff training, specialized service department, customer database and travel training programs. These recommendations should be considered primarily as a pilot project. The analysis suggests a series of follow up actions for ATI and TU such as continuous and sustained market research efforts.