Challenges of using the bus as an older person
conference contributionposted on 15.09.2017, 14:45 by Andrew MorrisAndrew Morris, Jo BarnesJo Barnes, Brian Fildes
The UK public transport system is generally considered to be safe. However, annually around 6,000 people are reported to be injured whilst using buses with more than 400 persons killed or seriously injured. Approximately 50% of those injured or killed are aged over 65 years. Free travel on buses has allowed senior citizens the freedom to travel for pleasure and social inclusion, but injuries or near-falls that may occur during the journey can impact on future decisions to travel leading to anxiety/fear of sustaining further injury, loss of personal mobility and ultimately social isolation. A study was undertaken to examine the general safety of older bus users. It explored injury type and causation and proposed design interventions for injury prevention with an objective of exploring how public transport use could possibly be made safer. Consultations were also undertaken with stakeholders which revealed the perceived need for better data systems. Industry stakeholders supported the concept of national injury surveillance databases that could enhance bus safety and inform policy and procedures. Older bus passengers enjoyed the freedom that ‘free’ travel brought to their everyday lives and this social impact dominated discussions with them. However, many had witnessed near-falls and ‘stumbling’ and some had experienced this type of event. However interestingly, many did not report these events to the drivers and accepted that it was an everyday occurrence. None of the interviewees normally asked drivers to wait for them to sit down after they had boarded the bus before the bus moved - but also complained that the drivers were not obliging in this regard. Further to this, observation studies revealed that many older passengers were standing up to alight for a considerable length of time prior to the bus stopping at their individual stops thereby significantly increasing their chances of falling.
This research is funded by the MRC Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme (LLHW), Grant Number G1001863/1.