Overall Accessibility of Public Transport for Older Adults
Sammanfattning: This thesis is based on four studies that explore accessibility for older adults during whole trips by public transport. The overall goal was to gain knowledge of the interrelationships among key variables and to develop a conceptual model of the overall accessibility of public transport. More specifically, the research goals were: (a) to explore links among the key variables postulated to be involved in overall accessibility and to explore the links between these variables and railway accessibility; (b) to gain a deeper understanding of links between critical incidents in traveling and travel behavior decisions; and (c) to develop a conceptual model of overall accessibility. The key variables contributing to overall accessibility are functional ability (depending partly on the person’s functional limitation or disease), travel behavior, and barriers encountered during whole-trip traveling involving train. Respondents with more than one functional limitation or disease reported lower functional ability than did those with only one such limitation and respondents with low functional ability were less frequent travelers than were those with high functional ability. Frequent travelers reported railway accessibility to be better than did those who traveled less frequently. The main barriers were ticket cost and poor punctuality, but respondents with the lowest functional ability attributed the barriers encountered to their own health. The critical incidents most frequently reported were found in the categories “physical environment onboard vehicles” and “physical environment at stations or stops”, as well as in the “pricing and planning during ticketing” phase of the trip. Five themes of reactions to critical incidents were identified that had resulted in behavior change: firm restrictions, unpredictability, unfair treatment, complicated trips, and earlier adverse experiences. A conceptual model of overall accessibility was developed, grounded in the empirical research results. This model is summarized in the following propositions: Overall accessibility is a reciprocal relationship among the barriers/facilitators encountered, functional ability, and travel behavior. Accessibility emerges in the person–environment interaction. To understand accessibility, past experiences and future expectations should both be considered, because both will guide travel decisions.
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