In the research, which was carried out by Philip Corran, PhD student in the School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences, travel diaries of Londoners between 2005 and 2015 were analysed. This was part of an investigation into the challenges faced by older people with long-term health conditions or disabilities when travelling in the capital.
The study found that, on average, 16 per cent of Londoners did not leave their house on any given day, with people in their 70s twice as likely as people of working age to stay at home. It is widely recognised that travel facilitates social inclusion and the research highlights the importance of transport accessibility in tackling isolation. A simple walk to the bus stop gets someone out of the house, while taking a bus offers an opportunity for social interaction and can help tackle loneliness.
Despite this, transport systems continue to favour those who are physically agile, can move quickly and have the necessary cognitive skills to navigate complicated transport networks. It is estimated that there will be more than 750,000 Londoners aged over 75 by 2035, so it is vital that future development of the city takes the needs of older people into account. Keeping active is important for older people’s health and wellbeing and key to this are public transport systems that encourage, rather than deter, their everyday mobility. The findings have been presented to TfL to aid their policy-making, providing evidence that should encourage transport operators to consider older populations when designing and developing future transport systems.