Public transport use in later life

Authored by: Charles Musselwhite , Maria Attard

The Routledge Handbook of Public Transport

Print publication date:  May  2021
Online publication date:  May  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367418724
eBook ISBN: 9780367816698
Adobe ISBN:


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Public transport is highly important for older people’s mobility. Buses and trains can be a protective factor in isolation and loneliness and improve physical health for older people. They are also important “third spaces” to be social, to watch the world go by and to experience mobility. In countries that have free or low fares for older people, they tend to see an increase in use among older people. However, older people face many challenges to public transport use, including accessibility, feeling unsafe, poor information and signage and poor-quality services. Railways are generally used less than buses but provide great potential if accessibility issues can be overcome. Older people’s anxiety over public transport use also includes psychosocial aspects, especially concerns about norms of behaviour. COVID-19 has seen a reduction in public transport use, and now a response is needed from public policy and public transport providers to restore confidence with the public to increase use and retain it as a viable method of mobility among older people.

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