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Public transport 'not serving OAPs'

Published 19/06/2015

The public transport system is not meeting the needs of older people, a report says
The public transport system is not meeting the needs of older people, a report says

A third of British pensioners never use public transport despite being eligible for a free bus pass, a new report claims.

The most common complaint from those aged 65 and over was that public transport is "not convenient and does not go where you want" the research by the International Longevity Centre think-tank and charity Age UK found.

Their report, The Future of Transport in an Ageing Society, found that 1.45 million over-65s in England struggled to get to a hospital, while 630,000 over-65s found had difficulty getting to their GP's surgery

Just one in 100 people over 60 said they would stop driving because of their age, but 43% said a health problem would make them stop getting behind the wheel, the report also found.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "It is crucial that older people are able to get out and about, especially as the evidence shows this helps them retain their health and independence for longer.

"Against this context it is worrying that so many older people are struggling to reach hospital, or sometimes even their local GP.

"This report should be a wake-up call because it shows our transport system is not currently meeting the needs of our growing ageing population. The bus pass is an absolute lifeline for many who would otherwise be stranded at home and is utterly essential, but the truth is it's not enough on its own to enable older people to stay mobile.

"For example, better transport planning and more imaginative use of volunteers could make a big difference today; and in the medium term 'driverless cars' and other technological innovations could be real game changers."

The report found that people in the worst health and with the lowest incomes who struggled the most to travel to health services.

Those in rural areas had worse access to public transport, with 20% of people on their early 70s using it weekly, compared to 38% of city and town dwellers. Some 18% of 65s in the countryside do not use public transport because there is none, compared to 2% of urban pensioners.

ILC-UK's Helen Creighton added: "Travel is essential for independent living and has been shown to benefit physical health and mental wellbeing in later life. Furthermore there is evidence that maintaining older people's mobility has substantial economic benefits, with analysis by ILC-UK estimating that concessionary fares will provide a net benefit to the wider community of £19.4 billion in the years up to 2037.

"This report, which highlights the travel difficulties facing older people, emphasises the need to adapt our transport system to meet the demands of our ageing society."

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