Action needed as bus cuts leave older people at risk of loneliness

People living in rural areas, like Swaledale, pictured, are particularly vulnerable to bus cuts
People living in rural areas, like Swaledale, pictured, are particularly vulnerable to bus cuts
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OLDER PEOPLE left isolated by cuts to bus routes and concessionary fares will be asked about the impact of loss of services in a bid to reduce the effects of loneliness on their health.

North Yorkshire county councillor and chairman of Future Years, the Yorkshire and Humber Forum on Ageing, Shelagh Marshall, will warn that cuts to subsidies and local authority funding have left a growing number of people without access to public transport, at the group’s annual meeting in Hull today.

She is to embark on a major survey of older people around the country to present to the incoming Government next year in a bid to get bus funding recognised as a serious issue.

Coun Marshall, who was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to Older People, said: “People are asking me, ‘what good is a bus pass, when there are no buses to use it on?’ For me, transport is the key priority issue to reduce the effects of loneliness on older people’s health.”

She said cuts to subsidised bus services, like those which contributed to the closure of Pennine Motor Services in Craven earlier this year, were particularly damaging in rural areas and for the disabled.

“It’s unrealistic for the Government to think the voluntary sector will fill the gaps left by cuts in funding for transport,” she said.”It is my role to bring the voices of older people to the Government.”

Raising awareness of the effects of loneliness on health has bene the key priority of Future Years in the past year. By 2027, it is predicted there will be 1m people in the 90s and 40,000 centenarians - all the more reason to act now, Coun Marshall said.

“We need to reach out to people who are in their 70s and 80s now, to ensure they are not affected in future.”