Bus cuts could ‘isolate older people.‘
Southampton has become one of the many councils that are subsidising bus routes and have openly admitted that it could lead to ‘increased social isolation’.
Age UK Southampton have added that this move could have a direct affect on the elderly. Phil Williams Age UK’s health and wellbeing officer said ‘We recognise how much pressure the council is under to further reduce its budget. I am sure they are carefully considering the proposal.
"Any removal of bus subsidies may have an adverse effect on elderly people to get out and socialise. The bus services are extremely highly valued by the people we work with.”(BBC 2015)
For many older people their only means of transport is via the public transport, whether for an opportunity to socialise and talk to people or to run errands like food shopping. This could effect residents quality of life and health as low-cost and nutritious food is not always available locally and easily prepared.
The idea of using shared taxis or community car schemes is to be investigated as an alternative to busses however this is something that could take a while to come into place, it is not yet confirmed when these bus subsidisers will be coming into place but in order for there to be as little disruption and risk when this comes into plan the council will need to be prepared as of what to do as increased isolation in both the healthy and the elderly.
A study by the university of Chicago has said that social isolation increases the risk of premature death by 14% and the christmas season ahead it’s looking like it could be a bleak christmas for many Southampton residents. Southampton has already been at the forefront of festive loneliness with 32,000 people over the age of 65 living in the area and after a recent survey it was revealed that over 10 percent of these people admitted they feel lonely and isolated by society.
This news of bus services being subsidised could be detrimental to the elderly community of Southampton, these changes will not be coming into action right away however it does bring up many concerns for the elderly community during winter months.