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Rural transport and older people in Lincolnshire : research report in association with the Policy Studies Research Centre and Lincoln Business School

Lincolnshire County Council
Publication Date
  • L434 Transport Policy
  • L432 Welfare Policy
  • L400 Social Policy
  • Communication
  • Economics


Executive Summary • The population of the UK is ageing and it is predicted that by 2035 people aged 65 and over will comprise 23% of the total UK population. • These changing demographics are particularly noticeable in rural areas of the UK, where the median age of a rural resident is 42, compared to 36 for an urban resident. The out-migration of younger age groups and the selective re-population of many of England’s rural areas with older age groups, means that the rural population is simultaneously growing and ageing. • Research indicates that among post-retirement older people there is a clear connection between transport and social exclusion, which is especially marked in rural areas. Accessible transport is therefore a key factor in preventing social isolation, facilitating independence and maintaining a high quality of life. • This report was commissioned to examine these issues and investigate the current and future transportation needs of older people in Lincolnshire after transport was listed as one of three top priorities for older people in a consultation with this age group in the county. • The report will form part of a wider proposal to develop a community transport strategy for Lincolnshire, supported by a marketing and communication plan for transport services for older people. • If well planned, community transport can form a vital component of an integrated transport system as it provides an important passenger transport resource, which complements other transport services such as local bus and rail networks and Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) schemes such as CallConnect. • In so doing, community transport helps to provide and enhance passenger transport accessibility and reduce social isolation in rural areas and for particular categories of people (such as older people), who can find it difficult to access public transport. The main conclusions which emerged from the research are as follows: • There was a severe lack of knowledge amongst participants about what community transport schemes existed, how they operated and what services they offered. • There appeared to be a negative relationship between the number of community transport providers and high levels of socio-economic deprivation. For example, in Gainsborough there were no voluntary/community car schemes, whilst in Louth, there was a large scheme, well operated and well used. However, despite these findings, there were still people living in Louth attending the focus group who had little or no idea about what a voluntary/community car scheme was or what other services like CallConnect could do for them. • The dominant role of the car in older people’s lives was noticeable: both men and women were very reluctant to give up driving and continued to drive into their 80s. • While some older people felt that their free bus passes were a ‘lifeline’, others felt they were less useful as there were not enough buses to use them on, could not use them due to mobility issues and the distance from their homes to a bus stop, or were not aware that they could be used on DRT services e.g. CallConnect. • A severe lack of coordination between transport services was reported by older people. These included connection times between different bus operators and also to railway stations. Furthermore there was also a variety of health care providers who older people felt gave little or no consideration as to how they were to get to appointments and how to deal with potential life changing events, e.g. the cessation of driving. • While many older people appeared to own mobile phones, very few used these to send text messages and no participants used their phone to access the internet. • Very few of the people interviewed used a computer, instead relying on their sons and daughters to find out information when they had no other option but to use a computer and access the internet. However, some older people did express a desire to learn more about computer technology and how to access the internet. • There are a lack of public and community transport services that operate during the evenings and at weekends in rural communities. This creates a feeling of isolation amongst the older people interviewed and difficulties in accessing essential amenities and services. Based on the research in this report, a series of short and longer term recommendations are suggested to increase the use of public and community transport services by older people in rural communities: Short term 1. The implementation of a promotional and marketing campaign that would raise awareness of different rural transport services available to older people 2. Further development of the Lincolnshire Community Transport Forum 3. The promotion of voluntary/community transport as a way to access healthcare Longer term 4. Greater opportunities for older people to access and learn about ICT for transport 5. The expansion of the concessionary bus pass scheme to be used on other transport services

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