Older people forced to travel less
Published on 24 October 2012 12:00 PM
Older people are travelling less since the Government abolished a half price coach concession scheme for older and disabled people, according to new figures released by National Express.
The national coach company has had to cancel three routes since last November because of falling passenger numbers - which are projected to be down by around one million journeys by the end of the year.
This is the first real test of the impact of last November's abolition of the Government's scheme, which was meant to make coach travel more affordable and accessible for older and disabled people.
Adding to isolation
Furthermore, the figures suggest that the Government's decision to withdraw the coach travel subsidy could be having a direct effect on people's mental and physical health.
The cancelled routes include a number which pass through rural areas - and often offer the only means of affordable transport to older and disabled people.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, explained: 'Many older people live in rural areas where there is often little in the way of public transport so, if they cannot afford to take coach journeys, many will have little option but to stay at home.
'It's very worrying because we already know that loneliness affects so many people in later life and research shows it's extremely damaging to people's mental and physical health.'
Since the Government abolished the half price coach concession scheme for older and disabled people last November, National Express replaced the scheme with its own version.
The new fare offers reductions of a third with the one off purchase of a ten pound coach discount card.