CANTON — An aging St. Lawrence County population is expected to rely more heavily on public transportation services in the future, according to a draft of the county’s coordinated transportation plan.
The proposed transportation plan was presented to county legislators Monday night by Frank Doldo, the county’s mobility manager from Volunteer Transportation Center Inc.
The share of the population over age 65 reached 16.8 percent in 2010 and is expected to grow to 19.3 percent by 2020.
“As the population ages, their transportation needs will change as older drivers will be less likely to be able to drive on their own, and increasingly rely on transportation services that are provided by friends, family members and service organizations,” the report states.
Andrea Montgomery, the county’s Office for Aging director, said the new public shuttle service in Ogdensburg has been very popular with senior citizens.
“I think you will see more people utilize it as more people become aware that it’s a viable option,” she said.
County Planner Matilda Larson said the demographic data was collected from the American Community Survey Policy Map, and the Cornell Project on Applied Demographics.
“We borrowed the tables, charts and maps from the county’s fair housing assessment which was adopted the previous year,” Ms. Larson said.
Like many rural New York counties, St. Lawrence County’s population has been declining since the 1980s. The county’s population peaked in 1980 with 114,254 residents and by 2016 had declined to 111,944.
By 2040, the Cornell Project on Applied Demographics projects the county’s population will continue to decline, to 99,887.
While St. Lawrence County’s population has remained relatively stable for decades, both Massena and Ogdensburg have faced a double-digit percentage decline in residents, according to demographic data cited in the report.
Between 1970 and 2010, the city of Ogdensburg saw a 24 percent decline, from 14,554 people to 11,128. The town of Massena saw its population decrease from 16,021 to 12,883, a 20 percent decrease. The report cites loss of industrial jobs as a major reason.
During that 40-year stretch, the town of Canton saw its population increase by 6 percent, from 10,348 to 10.995 in 2010. The town of Gouverneur also saw a 6 percent increase, with the population increasing from 6,710 to 7,085. The town of Potsdam saw a 2 percent decrease, from 16,382 to 16,041.
According to the report, St. Lawrence County is seeing changes in family composition that largely reflect national demographic trends.
The county is seeing a slow decrease in the number of married-couple families and small growth in female-headed households as well as a larger increase in non-family households.