Entitlement to concessionary public transport and wellbeing : a qualitative study of young people and older citizens in London, UK
Jones, Alasdair John Howard
Public transport in all countries, rich and poor, facilitates access to some of the determinants of health including employment, and health and educational services. Some cities (largely in higher income countries) now provide incentives to use public transport. Drawing on qualitative data from two groups typically at risk of transport exclusion, this paper focuses on young (12-18 years of age) and older (60+ years of age) bus users’ accounts of bus travel and of the travel concessions they receive. Both groups perceived that their entitlement to free bus travel reflected their social worth, but that entitlement to particular spaces on the bus reflected less valued social attributes such as need or vulnerability. Their free bus journeys were related to social inclusion through enhancing a sense of belonging: to the city, and to a collective ‘public’. We focus on the ways in which entitlement to public transport can mediate the relationships between mobility and wellbeing. These findings are important because while much research has focussed on ‘active travel’ modes and health, fewer studies look at the relationship between public transport use and wider health and social benefits.