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The grey escape: Investigating older people's use of the free bus pass

Susilo, Yusak O.; Andrews, Geoffrey; Parkhurst, Graham; Shaw, Jon


Yusak O. Susilo

Geoffrey Andrews

Jon Shaw


Since 2008 most older people in England have benefited from unlimited area-wide free travel by bus after the morning peak period. The official policy rhetoric supporting implementation of the measure drew significantly on the need to reduce social exclusion amongst older people. However, despite a substantial increase in the number of concessionary journeys in England and the associated cost liabilities for local authorities and possibly also operators, there is currently only limited understanding of the wide ranging effects on bus use of providing a free pass, and in particular to whom benefits from the policy accrue. In part, this circumstance results from a methodological focus by evaluation studies hitherto that has emphasised aggregate-level data, often at the expense of the very rich contextual information about how the individual benefits from using a pass. This article presents insights into the perceptions, motivations and decisions relating to use of free bus passes, highlighting the existence of both tangible and intangible benefits which arise. It offers a fresh insight into previously undefined uses and benefits derived from possessing and using a concessionary bus pass. This article concludes by noting possible policy implications of the research in the context of the UK's ageing population and for other international contexts where the transport intervention of free bus travel is being considered. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 1, 2012
Journal Transportation Planning and Technology
Print ISSN 0308-1060
Electronic ISSN 1029-0354
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 1
Pages 3-15
APA6 Citation Susilo, Y. O., Andrews, G., Parkhurst, G., Susilo, Y., & Shaw, J. (2012). The grey escape: Investigating older people's use of the free bus pass. Transportation Planning and Technology, 35(1), 3-15.
Keywords bus travel, older people, subsidy, public transport
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