Much of the literature on ageing and transport has been concerned with older drivers, which underlines the importance of private transport in their everyday lives, but little has been written about how a lack of transport impacts on quality of life. A survey was commissioned by the Office for Senior Citizens of the New Zealand government, and face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2004 with 28 couples and 43 single people (14 men and 29 women). The sample was identified through Volunteer Community Co-ordinators (VCCs) and drawn from metropolitan, urban, small-town and rural areas. The average age of the men was 84.5 years and of the women 81.4 years, and all had been without private transport for at least six months. The interviews sought the experiences and opinions of older people who were ‘coping without a car’, and asked how this affected their lifestyle and quality of life, and how they met their transport needs. The findings reveal variations by gender, health status and personal outlook, including views on independence and reciprocity. While ‘serious’ transport requirements may be provided for by alternative means, the ‘discretionary’ trips that contribute significantly to the quality of life may be lost when private transport is unavailable. The findings have implications for local and national policy and planning, extend well beyond the sphere of transport, and illuminate processes of social exclusion among older people.
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