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One in 10 older people rely on public transport, research finds

Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (Tilda) warns of serious dissatisfaction at services

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (Tilda) warned of serious levels of dissatisfaction with public transport, with more than half of the over-50s surveyed rating options in their area as poor or very poor. File photograph: Getty Images

Just one in 10 older people rely on public transport to get around, research on Ireland’s ageing population has found.

The study found a third of free travel pass-holders in the greater Dublin area use State-run bus and rail services, while the figure falls to 10 per cent in other towns and cities and to as low as 3 per cent for people in rural areas.

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (Tilda), based at Trinity College, warned of serious levels of dissatisfaction with public transport, with more than half of the over-50s surveyed rating the options in their area as poor or very poor.

Their biggest complaints were about limited bus routes or threatened closure of existing routes, inconvenient schedules and low frequency of services.

Prof Rose Anne Kenny, Tilda principal investigator, said more older people will be driving in years to come but their patterns of transport use will also change.

The report warned that for a substantial proportion of older adults, a free travel pass seems to have limited benefit.

Prof Rose Anne Kenny, Tilda principal investigator, said more older people will be driving in years to come but their patterns of transport use will also change.

As the population ages, we need to address the challenge of improved transport networks and services that meet the specific needs of older adults

“Greater numbers of people will rely on public transport or family and friends for getting around,” she said.

“Consequently, as the population ages, we need to address the challenge of improved transport networks and services that meet the specific needs of older adults, especially in rural areas.

“Retaining public transport links and/or identifying alternative means of providing transport is required, and this is especially pertinent given the current challenges to the provision of public transport.”

The report also detailed how patterns of transport use change as people get older and it warned about the importance of accessibility to quality transport options.

Dr Orna Donoghue, project manager and one of the authors of the report, said: “A reduction in mobility, driving or available public transport options can also affect people’s ability to attend events and social occasions, and this can represent a huge lifestyle shift for older adults.” – (PA)