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Affordability, safety, and lack of awareness among factors hindering the uptake of alternative modes of transportation by older adults

Luiu C, Tight M, Burrow M. Factors preventing the use of alternative transport modes to the car in later life Sustainability. 2018; 10(6): 1982.

Review question

      What are the barriers affecting the use of alternative modes of transportation in later life?

Background

      Research shows that the autonomy, flexibility and independence provided by the car are fundamental in fulfilling travel needs in later life. Statistics show that the car is the most used mode of transportation among older adults in the Western world.

      Despite the importance of promoting transport policies to incentivize people to switch to more sustainable forms of transportation, alternatives to the car are still underused by older adults.

      This scoping review examined the research evidence on barriers affecting the use of alternative modes of transportation in later life.

How the review was done

      Four databases – Scopus, Web of Science, Transportation Research International Documentation, and PubMed – were searched for English-language articles published after 1990.

      The database search returned a total of 10258 studies, 54 of which were included in the review following screening.

      The authors did not report any specific funding for this review.

What the researchers found

      Despite the benefits of public transport and other modes of transportation (for example, flexible transport services, taxis, walking, and cycling), they remain under-utilized by older adults.

      A variety of factors were found to hinder the uptake of these alternative modes of transportation, including: issues related to personal security, health impairments, service provision, affordability, comfort, attitude, built environment, information, and lack of awareness of transport modes.

      Public transport usage by older adults is predominantly hindered by unsuitable routes, timetables, and scheduling.

      Flexible transport services, a form of public transport regarded as an intermediary between a bus and a taxi, can address many of the limitations of public transport. Barriers to its uptake, however, include its limited provision due to lack of funding, lack of information and public awareness about the service, and its perception as a specialized service for impaired or generally disadvantaged people.

      Although taxis are seen as a fast, safe, and direct transport mode, their usage is limited by their lack of affordability.

      Finally, walking and cycling as transport modalities are limited primarily by the physical constraints of older adults, safety concerns, and limitations of the built environment (for example, streets without sidewalks).

Conclusion

      This review highlights the various factors that hinder the uptake of alternative modes of transportation by older adults, namely: issues related to personal security, health impairments, service provision, affordability, comfort, attitude, built environment, information, and lack of awareness of transport modes. Research is needed to identify solutions aimed at reducing the gap between the car and its alternatives and creating a transport system that is less dependent on the car, more environmentally-friendly, and better able to satisfy older adults’ mobility needs.



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