Only one in ten older adults in Ireland relies on public transport, according to a new report from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

It found that 58% of adults aged 50 and over living in rural areas rate the public transport services in their area as poor or very poor.

The report shows that most older adults rely on cars for transport, as opposed to public transport.

The report's authors stress the need for improved transport networks that meet the needs of older people, especially in rural areas.

The report details how patterns of transport use change with increasing age and highlights the importance of accessibility to quality transport options for social participation, mental health and well-being.

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing  report on transport published today uses data collected between October 2009 and February 2011.

According to the note on methodology in the document, the face-to-face field-work was completed during the first wave of TILDA, "a prospective study of 8,172 community-dwelling adults aged 50 years and older in Ireland". 

Asked whether the author could comment on the data's contemporary validity, a spokesperson for TILDA replied that research on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 people in the same age group found that  just 2% of adults in rural areas relied mainly on public transport - the same figure that had emerged from the older and more comprehensive research.

The spokesperson also said that while 9% of over-50s were found in the older study to "mainly use public transport", that figure dipped to 7% in the more recent survey.

When interviewees were asked about their "main mode of transport", 89% of the 2009-2011 sample said they travelled mainly by car, as a driver or passenger.

In the 2016 study, 80% said they relied mainly on the car in the same way.

However, the later study included "walking" as a mode of transport in its questionnaire while this option was not mentioned in the earlier questionnaire.

TILDA cautions that, because of the difference in sample sizes, the data from the two studies is not strictly comparable over time.