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Free Bus Passes Encourage More Walking Among Seniors

A survey among British senior citizens aged 60 and above shows that those who have free bus passes walked and used other forms of active travel more frequently than other older individuals. This was revealed by researchers led by Sophie Coronini-Cronberg, MSc, of Imperial College London, using data from the 2005-2008 National Travel Survey.

A National Bus Pass was introduced in England for senior citizens in 2006, initially giving them limited access, but was expanded in 2008 to include all local buses.

The data showed that from 2005 to 2008, the number of older citizens with free bus passes increased from 57% to 75%. More than 11,000 individuals ages 60 and older received a National Bus Pass and more than 5,000 people had none. Participants in the study were also asked about the frequency of their walks, access to cars, use of bus transportation and socioeconomic data.

The results of their analysis showed that compared to seniors who did not receive free bus passes, seniors who got free bus rides in all local buses anywhere in England travelled more actively by walking, cycling and riding public buses and trains. Those who rode private buses, cars, motorcycles and taxis were not considered to be actively traveling.

The British survey also revealed that active traveling was not limited to those belonging in lower socioeconomic groups, but also included those in higher economic groups.

Coronini-Cronberg explains that the purpose of the bus scheme was to increase the use of public buses among seniors to reduce social exclusion among these citizens and to ensure access to travel especially among those with limited incomes. The researchers add that active travel can help keep the elders physically fit.


Petrochko, C. Seniors Who Ride Free Walk More, Too. MedPage Today.

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