Supporting Research

The development of the Plan has been informed by research into the travel needs and transport use of older customers along with older people’s use of technology. Key findings from each of the research initiatives are outlined below.

Older Persons Transport Survey 2015

The Older Persons Transport Survey 2015 involved an online survey of Seniors Card holders supplemented by a computer-assisted telephone interview survey. A total of 2,132 people aged 60 years and over were surveyed, comprising 1,308 telephone interviews and 824 online responses. Respondents were recruited from across the greater Sydney metropolitan area and included a good representation of age, gender, pensioners and non-pensioners.

Key findings included:

Most older people drive regularly

Consistent with other similar transport surveys, the vast majority of older people are regular car drivers. In this survey 80% of the respondents were car drivers including 77% who reported travelling by car as a driver at least once a week or more.

The proportion of older people who reported that they drive a car at least once a week declined with age, especially among women drivers.

Most older people are not planning for when they can no longer drive

Overall 61% of drivers had not made plans or considered what they would do when they were no longer able to drive. This proportion of drivers decreased only slightly with age.

Most older people are also public transport users

Although a high proportion of older people are regular car drivers, a similar proportion of older people (75%) also use a mode of public transport at least once every two months.

For all age groups the most commonly reported purpose of travel by public transport was recreation, dining and entertainment suggesting that enabling access to public transport services for older people has economic benefits for the broader community.

Older people who used public transport travelled predominantly during the weekday off-peak period and on weekend days.

Older people who use public transport use buses most often

Buses and trains were the most commonly used modes of public transport.

People who used buses used them more regularly (once a week or more) than train users.

The proportion of people with a pensioner concession card increases with age

Of the sub-group of public transport users, 55% had a pensioner concession card. The proportion of people who had a pensioner concession card increased with age from 24% of 60 to 64 year olds to 75% of 75 to 79 year olds.

The majority of public transport users indicated that they could tolerate an increase in the daily price of a Seniors Card/Pensioner Excursion Ticket up to $3.80 without changing their current travel routines.

Improving public transport

People were asked to nominate a main concern. The issues most frequently identified as a main concern were safety (identified by 11% of all respondents), frequency (10%), reliability (8%), followed by facilities, distance to, and connections between, services (each 7%).

Reasons for not using public transport

The most commonly cited reasons for why older people choose not to use public transport were convenience, distance of the service from home or destination, making connections to other transport and safety. Not being able to travel whenever you want, longer travelling time or difficulty with carrying packages were the main issues related to convenience.

Community transport users are mostly women aged over 70 years

There were 108 respondents (5%) who used community transport. Of these, the largest group were women aged 80 years and over. Community transport was mostly frequently used for medical appointments.

Only a small percentage of older people use subsidised taxi services

The majority of respondents (84%) used taxis less than once every two months. Only 3% of the total survey sample (71 people) was eligible for the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme.

Transport use by older people in rural and regional areas

The Council of the Ageing NSW 50+ Survey 2015 sought to provide insights into how older people find information and how they ‘get around’ through a series of consumer reference groups, polls and focus groups. The key findings of the Council of the Ageing NSW 50+ Survey 2015 show that the difficulty experienced by older people in getting around was generally greater in regional areas compared to metropolitan Sydney.

Other key findings included:

  • The main ways of getting around were very different between respondents from metropolitan locations (Sydney) and non‑metropolitan locations. In rural areas there is less reliance on walking and a greater reliance on private motor vehicle transport.
  • There is a very uneven use of public transport across the eight regions in NSW – reflecting the differences in availability. There is far less public transport available in the non‑metropolitan regions – particularly the North Coast and Western regions.
  • The proportion of respondents who rated ease of getting around as very easy or easy was lower for those living in non-metropolitan regions. Getting to shops and health services was less easy the further respondents lived away from the Sydney East/Inner suburbs region.
  • For identified personal barriers to getting around by region, three barriers showed differences in incidence based on the region in which respondents lived. Those identifying ‘living in an isolated area’ and ‘can’t afford to get out and about’ increased the further away from Sydney East/Inner suburbs that they lived.
  • The most frequently identified physical barriers to getting around related to footpaths, which were identified by about 50% of respondents living in metropolitan regions and by about 70% of respondents living in non-metropolitan regions. The next most commonly reported physical barriers were associated with parking, toilets, lighting and seating.

Older people’s use of technology

In the Council of the Ageing NSW 50+Consumer Survey 2015, all respondents were competent using the internet as the
survey was self-administered online.5

Key findings included:

  • Paying bills and shopping were activities engaged in by more than 60% of respondents despite the often quoted concern with transacting on the internet.
  • Across most activities, the use of the internet declined for older respondents, however the rate of decline varied. Emailing and researching remained fairly stable, but newspapers, movies and music declined slowly and steadily with age.
  • The use of the internet was shown to increase as household income increases.Paying bills and shopping online in
    particular were activities that increased steeply as household income increased.

Common assumptions that older people find the convenience of smartphones and the ‘intuitive’ operations of tablets preferable to laptops and desktops are not supported by the responses to the survey. The use of tablets declined from about 50% of respondents in their 50’s to about 30% of respondents in their 70’s and 80’s.

When compared with other NSW and Australian Government customer websites, Seniors rated transportnsw.info as substantially easier to use and find the information they needed than the other sites. The website was rated as having the best utility and efficacy.


5 Council of the Ageing NSW 50+ Survey 2015