HC Deb 09 February 2004 vol 417 c1245W
Dr. Murrison

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment has been made of the effect of the availability of transport on the well-being of elderly people. [153997]

Mr. McNulty

The Department has a wide-ranging research programme looking into the transport needs of older and disabled people as well as other vulnerable groups in society. We recognise that a lack of mobility can prevent older people from participating in social activities and lead to low morale, depression and loneliness. It can also impact upon others, such as carers, social services and health agencies. A recent—January 2001—study indicated that the requirements of older people are similar to those of other members of society and major concerns include accessibility of vehicles, safety, reliability and cost.

We are making significant headway in all these areas, in particular in the provision of accessible public transport vehicles—for example, over a third of buses used on scheduled services are now fully accessible—and have introduced a provision under the Transport Act 2000 that guarantees pensioners and disabled people an entitlement to at least half-fares or better on local bus services, with the travel pass being free of charge.