Accessibility as an indicator of transport equity. The case of public transport infrastructure in Malta, and its impact on the elderly

Authors: Thérèse Bajada, Deborah Mifsud, Floridea Di Ciommo

Corresponding: Thérèse Bajada (

Keywords: transport equity, accessibility, public transport infrastructure, elderly people, transport policies for elderly, Malta


Issue: Xjenza Online Vol. 4 Iss. 1 - July 2016

The concept of equity is essential in transport because inequities lead to the formation of transport-disadvantaged groups, such as the elderly, disabled and low-income people. This paper focuses on the elderly. Due to age-related circumstances, several elderly persons have to surrender on driving, consequently they become highly dependent on public transport. Hence, accessible public transport is crucial to provide them with the necessary mobility. This research considers accessibility as a key indicator for transport equity, since the latter primarily deals with the provision of equal access to opportunities. The study focuses on the case of Malta's public transport system, which is composed of the bus service. The uniqueness of the Maltese case is that transport policy is fragmented, and is not focused on equity. This paper looks at three aspects of accessibility related to road infrastructure, public transport infrastructure, and the bus eet. The rst aspect refers to accessibility at the macro scale, for instance, pavements may not be solely designed to cater for the bus service, but they are an integrative part of it. The meso scale refers to accessibility of infrastructure in physical and cyber form, such as access to and on bus stops and access to online travel information. The bus eet refers to the micro scale of accessibility, which may include boarding and alighting the vehicle, and access on the vehicle. The research approach involves a review of existing Maltese public transport policy, with speci c focus on whether accessibility for the elderly is considered in the context of the afore-mentioned scales. It is envisaged that the minimal or non-existent policy on accessibility in public transport that focuses on elderly, makes this population segment at a double disadvantage. The research concludes with implications for policy related to public transport accessibility in a Maltese ageing society.

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