Anticipating and improving the future of mobility

Electric carBlog written by Mervyn Kohler, External Affairs Manager, Age UK.

One of the Grand Challenges facing society announced by the Prime Minister earlier this year is about the Future of Mobility, and the Department for Transport has now published a Call for Evidence.   The idea is that this and alongside other initiatives will help shape a Mobility Strategy which will emerge later in the year.

Continue reading “Anticipating and improving the future of mobility”

Guest blog – Catch the Bus Week: the benefits for all

Classic Bristol busesToday’s blog is from Claire Haigh, Chief Executive at Greener Journeys- she discusses how buses are about more than just getting somewhere.

This summer, the industry-wide initiative, Catch the Bus Week will once again roll out across the country. Following the success of last year’s campaign, we at Greener Journeys can’t wait for another fantastic campaign – this time during a glorious summer (we’re sure!). The event will run from 29 June to 5 July, giving the Great British public even more of an incentive to get out of the car and walk to the bus stop. Greener Journeys is a campaign dedicated to promoting the value of the bus throughout our communities, and during Catch the Bus Week (CTBW), our campaign goes into overdrive as we coordinate activity from the whole bus world to get people out of cars and onto the bus!

But Catch the Bus Week is not just about inspiring people to make sustainable travel choices; it is also an opportunity to celebrate the vital role of the bus in connecting the most vulnerable in society with the community around them. This year, our campaign will highlight the huge social value of the bus by showing that the bus is a community and wellbeing enabler, allowing people to visit their loved ones, go to the shops, or get to volunteering opportunities.

Loneliness amongst older people is a problem all year round. Age UK research found that around one million people aged 65 or over in the UK (10%) say they always or often feel lonely. The bus network in the UK offers a lifeline for older people who may otherwise be isolated from friends, family and the local community, not least because of the concessionary travel scheme that Greener Journeys has campaigned tirelessly to protect. Greener Journeys’ research has found that for every £1 spent in funding concessionary travel, the bus pass generates £2.87 in benefits. It was therefore wonderful to see all of the main parties pledge their support for the bus pass in the run up to the election in May.

With loneliness amongst older people such a pressing issue here in the UK, Catch the Bus Week is the perfect opportunity to get people, young and old, onto the bus, and out into the community. Last year almost 100 bus companies, passenger organisations and local authorities all came together to run events, ticket giveaways and community engagement campaigns across the country. Many MPs also got involved by hopping on a bus and holding their surgeries, tweeting and blogging about #CTBW and speaking about the bus to their local media.

Indeed, Catch the Bus Week is a week in which we celebrate the bus as a vital service, underpinning societies, connecting loved ones and ensuring everyone can get out and about. It is also about galvanising the whole bus community, from bus operators to bus pass holders. So please get involved to make this the best Catch the Bus Week yet! Why not hop on a bus to visit someone you haven’t seen in a while, pick up something tasty from the shop, or help out at a local charity shop!

Also published by Age UK today- ‘Public transport fails the oldest and most vulnerable.’ To find out more about Age UK’s position on transport services for older people, visit our website.

A route out of loneliness

A rural busIn this guest blog post, Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, argues that the provision of accessible affordable public transport must be a priority.

Continue reading “A route out of loneliness”

Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people

This blog was contributed by Alice Woudhuysen, Senior Campaigner at Age UK.

It’s a well-known fact that we live in a rapidly ageing society, to the extent that by 2083, about one in three people in the UK will be over 60 (ONS 2009).

Rural image 1This is, of course, a significant advancement and cause for celebration: longer lives represent progress and older people are big contributors to society.

Perhaps less well known is the fact that rural communities are ageing faster than their urban counterparts, with the number of people aged 85+ set to increase by 186 per cent by 2028 in rural areas, compared with just 149 per cent in the UK as a whole (Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion, for Cabinet Office, 2009). This is down to rising life expectancy, the outward migration of younger people to cities and the inward migration of people entering middle age to the countryside. Continue reading “Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people”

More cities sign up as Age Friendly Cities

This blog was contributed by Emily Georghiou, Age UK’s Public Affairs Adviser – Age Action. 

I recently had the privilege to attend the 2013 signing of the Dublin Declaration on Age Friendly Cities and Communities on behalf of Age UK. Over 40 mayors and representatives were present from over 60 cities and municipalities across Europe, all committed to making their localities great places to grow old.

photoThe Dublin Declaration was originally signed in 2011, during the 1st International Conference on Age Friendly Cities.

Building on this and timed to coincide with the Irish Presidency and EU Summit on Active and Healthy Ageing, the Dublin Declaration 2013 includes a new EU pledge to uphold a set of principles to measure, benchmark and drive future development of age friendly cities. Continue reading “More cities sign up as Age Friendly Cities”

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. Continue reading “The impact of bus cuts on older people in rural areas”

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