Poor “public transport etiquette” cutting off a lifeline for older people

Poor “public transport etiquette” cutting off a lifeline for older people

There’s nothing worse than being packed tightly onto a bus or train with no seat, especially when you’re feeling tired or a bit achey after walking. And whilst there are those who will happily offer you their seat and take notice when they see someone who might be struggling, research commissioned by Anchor Hanover, England’s largest provider of care and housing for older people, has found that a large majority of the public are not paying enough attention to those who may need a seat on public transport.

Researched as part of the Standing Up 4 Sitting Down campaign, it was revealed that passengers on public transport are more likely to look down at their phone or tablet (42 per cent) than look up to see if someone might need a seat. As a result, more than one in three older people have recently been unable to find a seat, and not been offered one. 


As a result, many older people who are living with loneliness are beginning to find that public transport is making them feel more isolated because of how reluctant we are to interacting whilst on public transport. Avoiding interaction has led to 43 per cent of people admitting they’ve not offered up their seat, even if they suspected someone might need it. 67 per cent of those people failed to do so, despite feeling guilty about it. Furthermore, 14 per cent think they do not need to offer their seat when not sat in a priority seat.

Despite their discomfort, 41 per cent of older people admit they’re too embarrassed to ask for a seat, while 39 per cent of the public cite ‘fear of causing offence’ as a reason for not offering an older person their seat. 


Standing Up 4 Sitting Down, a campaign focused on increasing seating for those who need it, is tackling the important and avoidable issue of transport etiquette by encouraging passengers to look up and consider the needs of others. 

Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive of Anchor Hanover, says:

“The implications of people being obsessed with their phones and tablets on public transport, instead of people, is deeply alarming. Older people are being left to stand are physically suffering and feeling isolated, leaving them reluctant to use public transport which is a lifeline for so many.”