Putting people at the heart of transport

Jul 3, 2019 | BLOG

By: Dan Holden

Being able to get from A to B is so fundamental to society and to our day-to-day lives that it is often taken for granted. The importance of mobility, the agency to be able to get around, is only going to become more important in the context of an ageing society, and is likely to need wholesale reconsideration if it is to work for society.

Earlier this year, as part of our strategic partnership with the EU-wide programme, Mobility4EU (M4EU), we hosted a roundtable in Brussels to explore what the future of mobility could look like, attended by key stakeholders from industry, policy and charities.

The M4EU project has developed a comprehensive vision of what the transport and mobility system should look like by 2030 by drawing on the expertise of stakeholders from across different parts of society and transport modes.

ILC’s interest in mobility policy reflects the importance it plays in the lives of older people, as well as people of all ages. Vitally, mobility could have a significant role to play in supporting healthy ageing. Whether through helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation or through facilitating ‘active travel’ and physical activity, mobility policy is crucial in the context of ageing policy.

Perhaps the most telling part of the roundtable event we hosted was not related to exciting innovations of technology supporting greater access to mobility services, but was when someone said “if you asked people to draw the future of transport, they imagine infrastructure”.

Understanding the perspective of transport users is critical to ensuring successful policy. There may, for example, be some state-of-the-art innovations out there to help support mobility services targeted at older people in rural areas. However, previous ILC research has shown that one of the main barriers to older people using public transport was that it didn’t go where they wanted to go. If mobility services are designed in isolation from the views of transport users, they are not going to achieve what they set out to do.

If we want to future-proof transport and mobility policy to work for an ageing society, we need to think beyond infrastructure and place people at the heart of the picture.

By emphasising the importance of co-creation, the M4EU project has taken a big step in this direction. ILC will be building on this in the future and is currently developing a project on what the future of driving means in the context of an ageing society. 

Andrew Rear

Chief Executive, Africa, Asia Pacific, UK & Ireland Life, Munich Re

Andrew Rear spoke at the ILC-UK event Europe’s Ageing Demography, at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, on the 5th November 2014. This is the second in a series of guest blogs by Andrew which will expand upon the key issues he raised in Brussels