Public transport use and health status in later life: Which relationship?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, ridership - old people, planning - surveys, policy - sustainable, policy - equity


Ageing, Local public transport, Car, Seniors health, Transport policies, Mixed-process models


In many developed countries, ageing trends have called for mobility policies oriented to active travels for older adults, preventing some diseases. As a result, in the transport and health literature, the elderly's psycho-physical health is growingly recognized as linked to the accessibility to local public transport (LPT) and its usage frequency. Using data drawn from a survey by the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) on the Italian citizens' daily life, this paper investigates the relationship between health dimensions of the sub-sample of people aged over 60 years in Italy and their use of LPT, considered as a more active and sustainable means with respect to car. By applying a recursive mixed-process approach and controlling for LPT service availability and parking issues, the findings highlight that (i) taking public transport services or driving cars more frequently is associated with higher levels of psychological and self-perceived health; (ii) especially for people over 65 years old, the use of LPT at least once a week is linked to better physical conditions. From a policy perspective, the insights of this study are two-fold. First, improving the accessibility to welfare and activity spaces by using LPT is likely to increase ageing people's mental health and their social inclusion. Second, stimulating the LPT usage might be a primary way to effectively promote physical health, to prevent ageing-related diseases, and to help reducing healthcare expenditures connected to the lack of active mobility in later life.


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


Research in Transportation Business & Management Home Page: