Free public transport and older people: An ethnographic study of an Australian bus service

Publication Name

Australasian Journal on Ageing


Objectives: This study explores older people's use of a free bus service in Wollongong, Australia. The research focus was on understanding the experiences of people over the age of 60 who use the service and the extent to which it contributes to their physical, mental and social well-being. Methods: The ethnographic research utilised fieldwork and interviews for data collection. Participant observations took place on the bus, and interviews were undertaken at bus stops. Data were analysed using an inductive thematic approach. Results: The research highlighted how bus services can be caring places for older people and a bus journey could be characterised as a therapeutic milieu. Travelling on the bus provided opportunities for health promotion due to active transport. Subsidised access to public transport supported people to maintain social connections throughout the city. Conclusions: Bus travel has contributed positively to the physical, mental and social well-being of people over the age of 60 in Wollongong.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Link to publisher version (DOI)