Smartcard Data on Use of Free Concessionary Travel by Older and Disabled Bus Passengers

Smartcard Data on Use of Free Concessionary Travel by Older and Disabled Bus Passengers


A Last, Minnerva Ltd, UK


Analysis of smartcard data on concessionary travel patterns in England, undertaken through ITS Leeds as part of a major DfT-sponsored research project


Data generated by smartcard-based bus ticketing provides a unique opportunity to examine the travel patterns of individuals over time. This paper reports on analysis of substantial volumes of smartcard data on the use made of free concessionary bus travel for older and disabled poeople in two areas of England in 2009.

It demonstrates the variability of travel patterns between individuals, with very little use of free bus travel by the majority of passholders but very intensive use by a small minority of passholders. It also raises a number of questions about differences in characteristics between users, and what might lead to very different reactions to various stimuli to changed travel behaviour.

The analysis forms part of a major research project being undertaken by the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds and sponsored by the UK Department for Transport. The project is reviewing methods of reimbursing bus operators so that they are left "no better off and no worse off" as a consequence of providing free travel for the elderly and disabled.

I gather that colleagues from ITS at Leeds are submitting other abstracts of papers describing various outputs from the project, although none overlap with the subject of this paper. If they are accepted, there would be merit in programming papers on the topic of concessionary travel together, and I understand that Dr Jeremy Shires of ITS has expressed a willingness to coordinate presentations. Delegates from outside the UK might benefit from a general introduction to the UK approach to concessionary travel as a precursor to hearing about the individual pieces of research. I would be pleased to participate in such a briefing along these lines.


Association for European Transport