Exploring the impact of public transport including free and subsidised on the physical, mental and social well-being of older adults: a literature review

Publication Name

Transport Reviews


Physical activity is one of the most important interventions to improve the health and well-being of populations. Gaining sufficient physical activity can often be difficult for older people, who are less likely to be involved in formal exercise. Older people are also more likely to suffer from social isolation. Active transport is an ideal opportunity to increase both the physical and social well-being of older populations. This literature review investigates the impact of public transport on the health and well-being of older adults and discusses policy implications. A literature search was conducted in CINAHL, Medline, Scopus, Web of Science and ProQuest Social Science databases to identify relevant articles. Fifty-eight articles were identified. Despite the prevalence of public transport including free and subsidised services worldwide, there is only a small body of research on the impact on older people. While limited, the literature on free and subsidised public transport and older people highlights that access has clear benefits for health and well-being. Public transport both promote active transport by encouraging older people to incorporate incidental activity into daily routines. We review literature showing that active transport positively affects older people’s physical health, as well as their mental health by enabling them to maintain social networks, thus reducing social isolation.

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