The impact of bus cuts on older people in rural areas

We have heard a lot lately from various politicians about the need to examine the universal benefits received by older people and in particular the concessionary bus pass. It seems that in the age of austerity, even something that has been so successful and proved so popular, is subject to review.

But it is not just the threat from government to withdraw the bus pass from all bus cutsbut the poorest, there is also the threat to bus funding from the imminent spending review. Cuts to bus services will hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.

Older and disabled people have hugely benefited from free bus travel and often rely on public transport to do their shopping, get to their GP and hospital appointments and visit friends.

But there is no point having a free pass if there are no buses to get on. Cutting bus routes leads to people losing their only independent access to transport. If you live in the countryside you will be doubly disadvantaged because poor bus provision in rural areas already causes isolation.

New polling carried out by Age UK has revealed that 93 per cent of older people who have a concessionary bus pass say losing it would have an adverse effect on their life. The polling is evidence of the vital role of concessionary bus passes and reliable bus services in enabling older people to remain independent and lead fulfilling lives as well as helping to prevent isolation and loneliness.

At the same time, Age UK is launching a new report that shows that older people in rural parts of England risk being stranded and isolated at home because of bus service cuts.

The study, ‘Missed Opportunities, the impact on older people of cuts to rural bus services’, examines in detail the needs of older bus users in rural parts of Durham and Northampton, regions that have been significantly affected by recent bus cuts.

It reveals the difficulties faced by those in rural areas with limited or non-existent bus services and the impact on their lives. Many older people are now forced to make a choice between paying for taxis to undertake cultural and social activities, and staying at home.

It is with this in mind that Age UK has called on the Government to recognise the many benefits of accessible public transport and the cost of problems caused by a lack of it.

Read the ‘Missed opportunities: the impact on older people of cuts to rural services

Find out more about our work on transport issues

7 responses to “The impact of bus cuts on older people in rural areas

  1. Austerity be damned. The Tories simply dont believe in the welfare State.

    The added problem is that the British havent a clue about the political ideology here, because we arent political motivated or interested, until things affect us personally. Now it is!!

    We get the politicians we deserve in this country, because we are sheep, lambs to the slaughter.

    • I’m a believer in minimum standards being introduced into the leader selection process, all our decision makers who sit around tables should at-least be able to understand basic correlations in data, count & have a proven track record, (previous ethical efforts) no other vocation is so open to wealthy self interest anybodies.

  2. While the government may well invoke the position of envy by suggesting that the free bus pass means that other bus users are paying more, the truth is that if it were not for free the bus pass users, the routes would become less viable and would be cut drastically. For the routes that remain with the loss of customers, the fares would have to rise dramatically and all bus users would lose out. With the inevitable increase in fares even less people would use them and the downward spiral would continue. the end result would be the elderly trapped in their own homes, others unable to get to work due to a massive slashing of routes and a massive increase in fares and so on. And the winners sadly would not be the government with all the knock ons from this action. Maybe just some ideologists who would wear a smug smile knowing that no one is getting anything that they are not because they would never be seen dead on a bus anyway, not now and not when retired either. And now they want to slash the subsidy too ????????

  3. I have responded to an earliet article on this subject and I can say agai that if this concession is removed then there will be a spate of older people ending up with dementia or killing themselves.
    Even poverty stricken Ireland can manage to give both free bus and rail to its senior citizens.

    Even poverty stricke Ireland can give free bus and rail to its people.

  4. David Mills Garrett

    We do not get a daily bus here one bus a week first thing in morning back late afternoon so it has to bevie car or taxi. Fuel for the car just keeps rising I do go into the south where it is a bit cheaper as it is in euro. I live in Northern Ireland

  5. I think Greg spoke very on this issue this morning, I also think it would make much more sense to focus on the extreme wastes in public transport spending , If i had a few volunteer accountants & investigators I’m sure we could save multiple times this amount while improving public services for everyone!
    Those inefficient & ruthless contractors who rip public services have a lot to answer for but little in their way. Current systems of regulation are a walk over here too, just like the health service…..

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