Abstract Older people in Britain are entitled to free off-peak travel by bus over the whole country in which they live. The introduction of the policy was a political decision with the stated objectives of increasing public transport usage by older people, improving their access to services and increasing social inclusion. The objective of this paper is to examine the available evidence to see whether these objectives have been realised. The paper also explores whether there have been other benefits for older people and for wider society. It is concluded that the objectives have been met to a large extent, but that many of the impacts might have happened anyway and that the impacts are probably less than many of the studies claim.