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Entitlement to concessionary public transport and wellbeing: A qualitative study of young people and older citizens in London, UK


  • Jones, Alasdair
  • Goodman, Anna
  • Roberts, Helen
  • Steinbach, Rebecca
  • Green, Judith


Access to transport is an important determinant of health, and concessionary fares for public transport are one way to reduce the ‘transport exclusion’ that can limit access. This paper draws on qualitative data from two groups typically at risk of transport exclusion: young people (12–18 years of age, n = 118) and older citizens (60+ years of age, n = 46). The data were collected in London, UK, where young people and older citizens are currently entitled to concessionary bus travel. We focus on how this entitlement is understood and enacted, and how different sources of entitlement mediate the relationship between transport and wellbeing. Both groups felt that their formal entitlement to travel for free reflected their social worth and was, particularly for older citizens, relatively unproblematic. The provision of a concessionary transport entitlement also helped to combat feelings of social exclusion by enhancing recipients' sense of belonging to the city and to a ‘community’. However, informal entitlements to particular spaces on the bus reflected less valued social attributes such as need or frailty. Thus in the course of travelling by bus the enactment of entitlements to space and seats entailed the negotiation of social differences and personal vulnerabilities, and this carried with it potential threats to wellbeing. We conclude that the process, as well as the substance, of entitlement can mediate wellbeing; and that where the basis for providing a given entitlement is widely understood and accepted, the risks to wellbeing associated with enacting that entitlement will be reduced.

Suggested Citation

  • Jones, Alasdair & Goodman, Anna & Roberts, Helen & Steinbach, Rebecca & Green, Judith, 2013. "Entitlement to concessionary public transport and wellbeing: A qualitative study of young people and older citizens in London, UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 202-209.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:91:y:2013:i:c:p:202-209
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.11.040

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Young, Anne F. & Russell, Anne & Powers, Jennifer R., 2004. "The sense of belonging to a neighbourhood: can it be measured and is it related to health and well being in older women?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(12), pages 2627-2637, December.
    2. Macintyre, Sally & Macdonald, Laura & Ellaway, Anne, 2008. "Do poorer people have poorer access to local resources and facilities? The distribution of local resources by area deprivation in Glasgow, Scotland," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(6), pages 900-914, September.
    3. Titheridge, Helena & Achuthan, Kamalasudhan & Mackett, Roger L & Solomon, Juliet, 2009. "Assessing the extent of transport social exclusion among the elderly," The Journal of Transport and Land Use, Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota, vol. 2(2), pages 31-48.
    4. Wretstrand, Anders & Svensson, Helena & Fristedt, Sofi & Falkmer, Torbjörn, 2009. "Older people and local public transit: Mobility effects of accessibility improvements in Sweden," The Journal of Transport and Land Use, Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota, vol. 2(2), pages 49-65.
    5. Mimi Sheller, 2000. "The City and the Car," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(4), pages 737-757, December.
    6. Whitley, Rob & Prince, Martin, 2005. "Fear of crime, mobility and mental health in inner-city London, UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(8), pages 1678-1688, October.
    7. Kearns, Robin A., 1991. "The place of health in the health of place: The case of the Hokianga special medical area," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 519-530, January.
    8. Goodman, Anna & Guell, Cornelia & Panter, Jenna & Jones, Natalia R. & Ogilvie, David, 2012. "Healthy travel and the socio-economic structure of car commuting in Cambridge, UK: A mixed-methods analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(12), pages 1929-1938.
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    10. Spinney, Jamie E.L. & Scott, Darren M. & Newbold, K. Bruce, 2009. "Transport mobility benefits and quality of life: A time-use perspective of elderly Canadians," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-11, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Falkmer, Marita & Barnett, Tania & Horlin, Chiara & Falkmer, Olov & Siljehav, Jessica & Fristedt, Sofi & Lee, Hoe C. & Chee, Derserri Y. & Wretstrand, Anders & Falkmer, Torbjörn, 2015. "Viewpoints of adults with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders on public transport," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 163-183.
    2. repec:eee:socmed:v:187:y:2017:i:c:p:20-28 is not listed on IDEAS


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