Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working papers in Transport Economics,
CTS - Centre for Transport Studies Stockholm (KTH and VTI)

No 2011:21: The grey escape: investigating older people's use of the free bus pass

Geoffrey Andrews , Graham Parkhurst , Yusak O. Susilo () and Jon Shaw
Additional contact information
Geoffrey Andrews: Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England, Postal: Centrum för Transportstudier (CTS), Teknikringen 10, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Graham Parkhurst: Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England, Postal: Centrum för Transportstudier (CTS), Teknikringen 10, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Yusak O. Susilo: Department of Transport Science, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Postal: Centrum för Transportstudier (CTS), Teknikringen 10, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Jon Shaw: Centre for Sustainable Transport, Plymouth University, Postal: Centrum för Transportstudier (CTS), Teknikringen 10, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: bus travel; older people; subsidy; public transport

JEL-codes: H29; I18; O18

13 pages, First version: December 13, 2011. Revised: December 14, 2011. Earlier revisions: December 13, 2011, December 14, 2011.

Note: This paper is published as: Andrews, Geoffrey, Parkhurst, Graham, Susilo, Yusak O. & Shaw, Jon, (2012), 'The grey escape: investigating older people's use of the free bus pass', Transportation Planning and Technology, Vol 35, Issue 1, pp. 3–15. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03081060.2012.635413

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