The Grey Diamond: Senior Citizens in Public Transport in Zeeland

In an ageing society, the support function of public facilities, among which public transport, for senior citizens to live and move around independently are increasingly important. Key question regarding the target group : How can public transport authorities, operators and end-users in the Netherlands influence a positive and efficient development of public transport for senior citizens in an ageing society?

Derived questions are:

  • What are the demographic developments around senior citizens?
  • What are their mobility needs?
  • What were the results of various interventions?

Background & Objectives

Problem to solve

The society in Europe is ageing. In 2025 over 25% of the EU's population will be over 65 years old When growing older, handicaps are rising and therefore the possibility to use (private) cars is significantly reduced.

Like in the rest of Europe, the composition of population in the Netherlands is changing over the coming decades. Society is faced with a growing population of elderly people. At present nearly 14 percent of the population is 65 years or older. In about 30 years no fewer than one in four Dutch people age and there are about 4 million seniors.

Objective of the activity

The interventions that were made in the Netherlands have various objectives:

  • Improve the vicinity and accessibility of public bus stops and vehicles
  • Improve information provision and assistance according to the needs of the target group(s)
  • Implement and analyse incentives to use public transport more intensively

Target group(s)

Primary target group for the interventions are senior (over 60) citizens and/or or citizens suffering some kind of physical or mental impairment.


Key conditions for implementation

Improvement of accessibility means that the participants implement measures that result in:

  1. improved ‘physical’ accessibility, among which vicinity of public transport, accessibility of bus-stops, accessibility of buses.
  2. improved ‘mental’ accessibility, which means an improvement of information-supply about the public transport system.

Some examples of interventions taken by various levels of government to improve the quality, accessibility and attractiveness of public transport for senior citizens are available, e.g.:

  1. Accessibility actions in the region West-Brabant in the south of the Netherlands.
  2. Stimulating senior travellers by offering a cheap ticket and/or travel assistance in the Province of Gelderland in the central-east of the Netherlands.
  3. Educating so-called PT-ambassadors within the senior community

Costs & Funding

Not available for all the interventions, as it differs from project to project. Accessibility actions were funded by saving part of the exploitation costs for the on-demand taxi, communication actions were funded by the PT authority directly.

Marketing & Dissemination

Magazines, website, via local newspapers

Partners involved and relevant stakeholders

PT authorities

PT operators

Senior Stakeholder organisations

Measures implemented

The initiative to improve vicinity and accessibility of public transport in West-Brabant started in 2004 and is still continuing. Provincial and regional subsidies, that were generated by savings on the exploitation of the on demand services (also called CVV), were invested in improvement of the regular bus transport system. The aim was to achieve a shift from too extensive usage of the on-demand system to regular public transport. Projects undertaken so far:

  • Studies (to increase know-how)
  • Vicinity actions (bring the busstop close to home)
  • Improvement of busstops
  • Improvement of equipment

The action in the Province of Gelderland is founded on two pillars / incentives:

  1. price-incentive: WMO-travellers have free use of public transportation;
  2. information-incentive, a comprehensive communication and instructional process was performed, including a personal instruction.

Between March 2008 and March 2009, three measurements were performed. Some results are presented below:

  • Since the start of the pilot, a change in the use of public transport has occurred. The use of public transport by WMO-indicated increased with about 25%. The proportion of people who would no longer use Regiotaxi also increased during the test.
  • All three measurements showed that WMO-indicated travellers would increasingly use public transport if:
  • the distance between the house and stop the step is reduced (vicinity);
  • the entry and exit would be easier (accessibility);
  • there is a secure and comfortable seat;
  • the connections of public transport are improved.
  • The various measurements have shown that price is the main incentive for using public transportation. Also the information package turned out to be a positive contributor. The installed website and helpdesk and so-called demobus appear to have been less successful during the pilot.

Challenges & Obstacles

  • Organisational obstacles: PT responsibility in NL is divided over many organisations, this makes network policies a real challenge
  • Information obstacles: the target group has very different needs within, it requires specific analyses of needs before an intervention can be implemented successfully


The sample projects shortly described above have some synergy. In all pilots, sufficient accessibility is a prerequisite for even having the possibility to use public transport independently. A good network with accessible bus stops close to origins and main destinations of senior citizens is a cornerstone for any improvement of this system. Without meeting the accessibility requirements, all other incentives will be likely unsuccessful. Price and information are triggers that become important factors when there exists an acceptable level of accessibility. What is acceptable or not is not the direct scope of this contribution, but some indication has been described above (e.g. minimal distance to a bus stop, accessibility of the vehicle and offering a shelter). The example in the Province of Gelderland showed various results regarding the effect of an information service, simply because the scope, style and target group of the information provided is incomparable.

Monitoring / Evaluation

In West-Brabant, the number of improved bus stops are monitored continuously. For the Province of Gelderland, a before-during-after survey was performed.

Contact Person
Mr. Don Guikink
Firm: DTV Consultants
Address: Teteringsedijk 3, 4800 DN - Breda, Netherlands

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The AENEAS project is supported by:
Inteligent Energy
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