To drive or to use the bus? An exploratory study of older people in Malta

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - car, place - europe, ridership - behaviour, ridership - mode choice, ridership - old people


Older people, Mode choice, Mobility determinants, Malta


Older adults are becoming a larger portion of the world's population, and as a result, more attention is being given to their mobility and travel behaviour. Such studies are however lacking in certain contexts like in Malta, an island state in the Mediterranean Sea. Malta is facing a concurrent high population density, high motorisation rate and an ageing population. Nevertheless, older people's mobility is not adequately considered in transport policy. The aim of this paper is to have an exploratory understanding of mode choice in later life in Malta, and understand the key determinants that affect older people's decision to drive or to use the bus. Using descriptive statistics and two regression models, this paper shows how in Malta older males drive significantly more than females, and the latter use more public transport. As age increases, the percentage of drivers declines for both genders. On the other hand, whilst for females public transport use also declined with age, the pattern of usage amongst males fluctuated. The data also showed that public transport was mostly used by non-driving older people who could potentially be captive bus users. The determinants that predicted whether older people drove or not were (i) gender, (ii) age, (iii) their occupation status, and (iv) the presence of an assistive device. The significant predictors for older people's public transport use were (i) the number of cars available in the household, (ii) age, (iii) the district where they lived, (iv) their occupation status, (v) their participation in social activities and (vi) the presence of personal assistance. The two models revealed different predictors for mode choice however there were also several similarities. The paper concludes with a discussion, highlighting the importance and relevance of the results to transport policy-makers. It also provides suggestions for further research to examine older people's mobility and travel behaviour.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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