Impact of Concessionary Bus Travel on the Well-Being of Older and Disabled People


Roger Mackett

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - europe, ridership - old people, ridership - mode choice, ridership - behaviour, policy - disability, policy - social exclusion


concessionary bus pass scheme, travel behavior, modal usage, social inclusion


This study examined the impact of the concessionary bus pass scheme for older and disabled people in Great Britain. The scheme offers people age 61 years and older and those with disabilities free off-peak local bus travel across the country. The plan evolved from half-price local travel and free local travel through ad hoc local schemes. The taxpayer cost is more than £1 billion (1.6 billion; £1 =1.60 in 2013) a year. There have been calls for the scheme to be abolished or reduced in scope to save public expenditure. However, the scheme is very popular with those who hold concessionary travel passes and is popular generally. This paper describes the scheme and then considers the take-up rate, along with how it has increased over time. Effects on the travel behavior of older and disabled people in changes in trip patterns, trip purposes, and modal usage are then discussed. The study examined the evidence on the benefits that concessionary travel passes offer their holders; these benefits included quality of life, health, social inclusion, the process of ceasing to drive, and access to local services, all of which affect well-being. The wider benefits to society of concessionary travel passes and the value placed on them were considered. Although placing a monetary value on all the benefits is not possible, the benefits are large and must be considered in any discussion about abolishing or amending the scheme.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.