Poor connections – transport and poverty

New research from the Campaign for Better Transport emphasises the impact poor transport has on people on low incomes.  This is a growing concern as funding cuts continue to affect public transport.

Impact of poor public transport

They found that those on low incomes are more reliant on bus services with half of the poorest fifth of the population not having a car. Low income communities also tend to have higher exposure to the negative impacts of transport, including being at greater risk of being killed or seriously injured on the roads.

We know that the bus concession allows older people to reach key services, friends and family without having to make difficult financial decisions. But this obviously goes hand in hand with having good bus services. (See recent blog – Keeping bus services free and reliable.)

The impact poor transport has on people’s lives is brought to life in the research by Campaign for Better Transport by an in-depth case study of the Burbank Estate in Hartlepool.

A mile away from the town centre, some residents from the Estate can walk to use the shops and services they need. But many  have to rely on a bus that runs only three days a week or incur the expense of taxis.

Losing a regular bus service

A regular bus service that residents in Burbank relied on has recently been changed. Stephen, who has lived in Burbank most of his life, is now retired and has severe arthritis, commented:

“A lot of people blame the Council, but it is not their fault – the Central Government deficit has been passed on, but it’s frustrating, they didn’t need to be so stringent. The trouble is that the decision isn’t taken by people that live around here. They are managers and have cars. Those affected are the poor people who can’t afford cars”

Two things jump out from this comment. First that owning a car has become a necessity. The locations of shops and services are often based on the assumption that we all own a car. Secondly, that the Council needs to do more to listen and find solutions that meet people’s transport needs.

Government inquiry

The Environmental Audit Committee has just launched an inquiry covering some of these issues. They plan to examine whether Government policy is providing the transport infrastructure people need to get access to key services.

Age UK will be responding and would like to hear about your experiences.

Do you live in a ‘transport desert’? Have you recently lost the public transport you relied on, whether it is a bus or ring-and-ride? Let us know your views by leaving a comment below or emailing gemma.bradshaw@ageuk.org.uk

Age UK is committed to improving standards for people in later life. We seek to influence decision makers by conducting social and economic analysis, developing public policy proposals and shaping policy agendas in a wide range of areas. Find out more about our public policy work 

Keeping bus services free and sustainable

Over the last year there have been significant funding cuts to bus services. Many people will have seen the impact these changes are having on the ability of older people to get out to key services and to see friends and family.

With this in mind Age UK commissioned two research projects to evaluate the value of buses and concessionary travel for older people. Our recently published report –Getting out and about– summarises the findings of this research.

In short we found that keeping buses both free and sustainable is vital for older people to stay connected and maintain their independence.

Money management

The concession allows older people to reach key services, friends and family without having to make difficult financial decisions. Notably, ownership and use of the concessionary bus pass is highest for those on the lowest income.

‘Now I have free bus travel, I don’t need a car. I gave it up…and all the cost and worries of it breaking down and all that’ (Male, 77, town)

Continue reading “Keeping bus services free and sustainable”