“I’m very visible but seldom seen”: consumer choice and use of mobility aids on public transport Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE:The number of mobility aid users continues to rise as the population ages. While mobility aid users rely on public transport due to its affordability, evidence suggests access can be difficult. This study aims to describe people who use mobility aids to access public transport and the role of public transport access in influencing mobility aid choice. METHODS:Sixty-seven mobility aid users participated in telephone surveys which predominantly used a structured quantitative format. Data were analysed descriptively and any additional comments were simply categorized. RESULTS:Thirty-six participants were female (54%), with a total sample mean age of 58.15 years (SD = 14.46). Seventy-two percent lived in metropolitan areas, 48% lived alone, and the sample experienced a variety of conditions including spinal cord injury (37%) and arthritis (18%). Sixty-four percent of all respondents used two or more mobility aids including powered wheelchairs, scooters and walking frames. The most important features when choosing a mobility aid were reliability, turning ability and size. Fifty-two percent of all respondents strongly agreed that public transport is generally accessible. CONCLUSIONS:While work continues to ensure that public transport vehicles and stations are fully accessible, mobility aid users must manage current infrastructure and access a system which has been shown through this research to have many limitations. Mobility aid users, vendors and health professionals need to work together to identify mobility aids that fulfil needs, and are reliable and safe, so that mobility aid users are both "visible and seen" when accessing the public transport network. Implications for rehabilitation Some mobility aid users experience difficulties accessing and using public transport and further research is required to ensure the whole public transport network is fully accessible to people using mobility aids. Many people have more than one seated mobility aid, suggesting people can choose different aids for different purposes and environments. Health professionals may need to increase their involvement in assisting individuals to select and use mobility aids.

publication date

  • 2019