Most over 50s in rural areas rely on cars for transport
A new report from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing has found that only one in ten older adults in Ireland relies on public transport. The report uses data collected between October 2009 and February 2011.
The report found that 58% of adults aged 50 or over who live in a rural area rate the public transport services in their area as poor or very poor.
The report shows that as a result of poor public transport services in rural Ireland, most of the over 50’s must rely on cars for transport, as opposed to public transport.
The report stresses the need for an improved transport network to be established in rural Ireland to meet a certain demand and the apparent needs of older people.
The findings of the report highlight that patterns of transport use actually change with increasing age.
The report also shows the importance of accessibility to quality transport options for social participation, cohesion, mental health and general well-being.
When you get to a certain age in life, you like to know that you do not have to rely on your own transportation but can access quality public transport.
Many feel that if they were maybe unable to drive themselves for any reason that they have access to a reliable transport network.
The report's findings were based on a study of 8,172 community-dwelling adults aged 50 years and older in Ireland".
The authors of the report were asked about the validity of the data and a spokesperson for TILDA replied that research on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 people in the same age group found that just 2% of adults in rural areas relied mainly on public transport.
TILDA collects information on all aspects of health, economic and social circumstances from people aged 50 and over in a series of data collection waves once every two years.
The spokesperson went on to say that in an older study 9% of over-50s were found to "mainly use public transport" but that figure dropped to 7% in the more recent survey.
Many interviewees were asked about their "main mode of transport" and 89% of the 2009-2011 sample said they travelled mainly by car, either as a driver or passenger.
In contrast to the earlier study, the 2016 findings show that 80% said they relied mainly on the car in the same way.
It must be noted though, that the latest study included "walking" as a mode of transport in its questionnaire while this option was not mentioned in the earlier questionnaire so the figure is somewhat skewed in that direction.
TILDA cautions that, because of the difference in sample sizes, the data from the two studies is not strictly comparable over time.
The bottom line is that the majority of people cannot rely on public transport in rural areas because they feel they are better served relying on their own mode of transport and most over 50’s rely on their own cars to get around.