Public transport help for elderly

There are many organisations who can help your elderly parent to get out and about and there are also many concessions which will allow them to do so more cost-effectively.

Here’s our useful guide:

Disability Allowance for the elderly

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit for people who become disabled and make a claim before age 65

If your parent is disabled, you should register them. Read our useful guide to registering your parent disabled

Modes of transport


Older and disabled people are entitled to a minimum concession of free off-peak travel on a local bus anywhere in England

Off-peak times are between 9.30 am and 11 pm on working days and all dayat weekends and public holidays

Concessionary bus travel is available as follows:

  • If your parent was born before 6 April 1950, they are eligible for an older person’s bus pass from their 60th birthday
  • Women born after 5 April 1950 become eligible for an older person’s bus pass when they reach pensionable age
  • Men born after 5 April 1950 become eligible when they reach the pensionable age of a woman born on the same day

Some services are not covered by this provision:

  • Services where most seats can be reserved, such as coaches
  • Temporary services that run for less than six weeks, e.g. shuttle buses to special events
  • Tourist services, or services on vehicles of historical interest, e.g. open-top tours
  • rail replacement services
  • Services where extra provision, such as refreshments or car parking, are included in the fare

Local authorities (councils) may offer further concessions to their residents, for example, concessions on trams or rail travel, or travel during peak hours,but these will only apply in this local authority area

Where local authorities offer more generous schemes, they are allowed to make a charge for a bus pass, as long as a free bus pass providing the statutory minimum concession remains available as an option

For more information about the scheme in your area and how to apply, contact your local authority

Buses for the disabled

More buses become wheelchair-accessible as older, inaccessible vehicles are replaced by modern, low-floor buses with ramps, but it will take until 2017 before all buses are fully accessible

Modern buses are also easier for people who have difficulties in walking, climbing steps or holding handrails as they have level access or lower entry and exit steps and easier to grip handrails

Contact the local authority for more details about disabled bus access


Senior Railcard

The Senior Railcard is available to anyone (including visitors to Britain) aged 60 or over

It costs £28 for one year or £65 for three years and allows your parent to save one-third of the cost of most rail fares in Great Britain

There may be other offers for cardholders, such as reduced-price membership for art or food societies. For more details, visit

The leaflet on the Senior Railcard includes more details and an application form. It is available from railway stations, or from rail-appointed travel agents. To apply, take the completed form and proof of your parent’s age, such as passport,driving licence or birth certificate, to their nearest staffed railway station, or to a rail-appointed travel agent

You can also make a purchase a senior railcard on-line at, or by phone from National Rail Services 

Disabled Persons Railcard

The Disabled Persons Railcard costs £20 for a year (or £54 for three years) and it allows your elderly relative to save one-third of the costs of most rail fares in GreatBritain

If they are travelling with a companion, they are entitled to the same reduced rate

An application form and is available from most staffed railway stations; from the headquarters of the train-operating companies; by post from the Disabled Persons Railcard Office, or you can download it from

There are also discounts for people who travel in their own wheelchair, or those who are registered blind, or who are partially sighted

People who need to stay in their own wheelchair during a journey and do not hold the Disabled Persons Railcard can still get discounts on single and return tickets. They can get the same discounts for one travelling companion

Registered blind and partially sighted people who do not have a Disabled Persons Railcard can also get discounts, but only if they travel with a companion

They must show a document confirming their disability when they buy a ticket or when travelling

Train companies can provide special arrangements for disabled, or mobility-impaired passengers. For example, they may be able to arrange for staff to help your ageing parent get off the train when they get to their destination, or when you have to change trains. They need to contact the train company as far in advance as  possible and at least 24 hours before the journey. Contact National Rail Enquiries  for more details

For people with hearing and speech impairment, stations normally display printed timetables

Many ticket office windows have been fitted with induction loops to help hearing-aid users. Most stations display arrival and departure details on visual display units

For people who are visually impaired, train arrivals and departures are usually announced over loudspeakers

Many stations have toilets that are accessible to wheelchair users and convenient for other disabled travellers. Some toilets for disabled passengers are kept locked to deter vandalism and a notice will indicate where a key can be obtained. Some toilets are fitted with National Key Scheme locks (see more information below)

Facilities on trains also vary. Newer trains are designed to allow full access for people with disabilities, including people in wheelchairs, but older trains may be less accessible


Information on routes, fares, timetables and facilities can be obtained from coach companies, or from most travel agents. There is also information on Directgov

A concessionary scheme for older or disabled people, which offered fares at half price, closed on 31 October 2011 as the government funding has been withdrawn

There is no national concessionary coach scheme, but for help contact

Facilities for disabled people vary between coach stations and your parent should check with your travel agent, or the coach company what facilities are available at both ends of the journey and along the way

Many coaches are not accessible to some disabled people, because they have steps

Most cannot carry wheelchair passengers, unless the coach has been specially adapted, or the passenger is able to sit in a normal coach seat and their wheelchair can be folded and stowed in the luggage lockers

Many coach operators will provide assistance for disabled people, although seven days notice is usually required so the arrangements can be made.

For more information, see Directgov 


Some airlines may offer concessions for older people, but the qualifying age maybe different for different airlines

For details of any concessions that may be offered for a particular journey and the qualifying conditions, contact a travel agent, or the airline

Contact the airline and/or the airport before your parent travels to find out what facilities are available for people with disabilities at the airport and on the plane and whether any particular arrangements need to be made

Make sure your parent lets the airline know what their needs are at least 48 hours before flying

The Department for Transport has published a code of practice called Access to air travel for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility. It can be downloaded from the Directgov website

Ships and ferries

Some ferry companies offer discounts to Senior Railcard holders and others may offer discounts to passengers above a certain age

Check with your elderly relative’s travel agent, or the ferry company to see what discounts may be available

Facilities for people with disabilities vary both at terminals and on board

Community Transport Options

If your parent is disabled and cannot use ordinary public transport and they do not have access to a car, there are community transport schemes that they may be able to use

To get information on all community transport resource available in their area, you can use the map provided on the Community Transport network website:, or from their local authority

There are also schemes where people volunteer to use their own cars to drive people who cannot use public transport. They can take them to visit a doctor, chemist, or to go shopping, for even to social events, or to visit friends or family

In some areas the local Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) provides social car schemes

The local branch of the British Red Cross, or St John Ambulance may also run voluntary schemes

Dial-a-Ride schemes provide door-to-door transport for people who cannot use public transport. They use converted cars or wheelchair-accessible minibuses with fully trained staff. Most Dial-a-Rides will only take your parent on local trips. Usually, your parent would have to book their trips in advance and enrol as a member. There may be a call-out charge, and your elderly relative will probably have to pay a mileage cost. Contact the local authority

Taxicard scheme

These schemes have been set up on a local basis by some local authorities.

They are for disabled people who cannot use the bus service due to difficulties with access

The schemes offer a number of concessionary taxi journeys each year

Contact the local council to find out whether it runs such a scheme and what concessionary fares it offers


Shopmobility schemes lend manual and powered wheelchairs and powered scooters to those people who need them to shop and use other facilities in town centres. There are schemes throughout the UK

For more information contact the National Federation of Shopmobility UK

National Key Scheme

  • The National Key Scheme was set up to allow independent entry by disabled key holders to accessible public toilets, which have been locked to prevent vandalism
  • NKS keys can be bought from the Royal Association for Disability Rights UK for £4
  • The local authority, the Tourist Office or local disability group may also have stocks of the key for sale

Transport for London Free travel for over 60s

If you l ive in London and are aged 60 or over, you can apply for a 60+ London Oyster photocard to travel free on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London


To apply online you’ll need:

A colour, digital photograph

  • An active email address
  • A machine-readable passport (most valid travel passports are machine-readable) or a UK driving licence (full or provisional)
  • A valid debit or credit card (registered at your current address), to pay the £10 admin fee and verify your address

You can get a Freedom Pass if your only or main home is in a London borough and:

You can also get a Freedom Pass if you:

  • Are blind or partially sighted
  • Or are profoundly or severely deaf
  • Or are without speech
  • Or have a disability, or have suffered an injury which makes walking more difficult
  • Or have no arms or have a long-term loss of the use of both arms
  • Or have a learning disability
  • Or have been refused a licence on the grounds of your disability

For further details about eligible disabilities see the freedompass website

Other useful contacts


RICA for mobility



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