Concessionary bus fares for older people in Scotland - are they achieving their objectives?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - old people, policy - fares, policy - disability, policy - social exclusion, economics - appraisal/evaluation, mode - bus


Social inclusion, Senior citizens, Scotland, Physically handicapped persons, People with disabilities, Older people, Old people, Modal shift, Intracity bus transportation, Handicapped persons, Free fares, Evaluation and assessment, Elderly persons, Disabled persons, Case studies, Bus transit, Aged


Since April 2006, people aged 60 and over and disabled people have been eligible for free travel by bus throughout Scotland at all times. This paper examines who uses this concession, what use is made of the concession in terms of frequency and purpose of trip, and whether the concession succeeds in enhancing social inclusion. Data from two recent evaluations and a survey examining the needs of disabled people for public transport are reviewed in the present study. The findings show that there have been significant changes in concession use among wealthier senior citizens, which means that the average passholder is younger and more likely to own a car than when there was no free concession. Although there is some evidence that the new concessions are promoting social inclusion among the elderly, they also appear to be promoting modal shift. In addition, there are large portions of the population for whom the concession is of limited use, since they face barriers to bus use other than cost. With the concession, local authorities have less flexibility in their spending on transport, including on specialized transport services for the disabled, leaving this segment of the population socially excluded.


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