Indicator 48: Transport policy

Indicator 48: Existence of a national policy to make transportation accessible to older persons
Indicator is fully reported? Yes. A universal approach to accessibility is taken.
Type of indicator Instrumental indicator Instrumental indicator
Other relevant indicators NZ Positive Ageing Strategy, goal 4 indicator – the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over who live in households with access to a motor vehicle, as reported in the [most recent census].
Our findings

Connecting New Zealand summarises the government’s policy direction for transport.[1] It identifies our ageing population as one of several challenges in trying to achieve an effective, efficient, safe, secure, accessible, and resilient transport system.[2] The ageing population has significant implications for future transport needs, safety, and the transport workforce.[3]

As part of the government’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the government set up a Ministerial Disability Committee. The committee has been preparing a Disability Action Plan. The transport focus of the plan for Canterbury is on accessibility of the built environment, re-designing disability supports and services, and accessibility of public transport, including land transport infrastructure.[4] The knowledge gained from this experience in Canterbury will be available for use throughout the country.

Government-subsidised transport schemes

Older people can use public transport and taxis to get about when people do not drive.[5] The government currently provides different schemes to help individuals, such as SuperGold Cards[6] and the Total Mobility Scheme.[7] The schemes provide subsidies that remove or reduce the cost paid by an individual. The success of these schemes depends on the regularity, reliability, and accessibility of the services.

SuperGold Card holders get free off-peak travel on public transport (urban buses, ferries, and trains). [8] The cards are automatically issued when someone is granted New Zealand Superannuation, a Veteran's Pension, or a main benefit at age 65+.

The Total Mobility Scheme provides taxi services for people who cannot travel independently in a safe and dignified manner for part of their intended journey. Taxi vouchers give a 50% discount on the normal taxi fare, up to a maximum fare. The scheme also provides funding to help buy and install wheelchair hoists in taxi vans.

Requirements for public transport accessibility

As a condition of funding, regional councils are to use the common standard for urban bus quality, which specifies accessibility requirements for new buses. The aim is to promote easy and quick accessibility for all passengers regardless of any physical, sensory, or cognitive impairment. It includes having priority seating areas.[9]

There are no similar guidelines for trains. However, Wellington’s trains are all accessible by disabled passengers, with the new trains having at least one entrance with no steps. Auckland’s new trains also have similar features.

Motor vehicle access by household

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) states that access to appropriate and affordable transport alternatives enables older people to remain active in their communities. Private cars play an important role in recreation, friendships, and access to services for older people. MSD reports on older people’s access to motor vehicles using data from the most recent census.[10]

The 2006 census found that 87% of people aged 65+ lived in households with access to a motor vehicle. The data showed that access decreased with age, that more men than women had access to cars, and the gap between men and women widened with age. Older people’s access differed by ethnicity – 88% of Europeans had access to a motor vehicle compared with 86% of Asians, 83% of Māori, and 81% of Pacific peoples. In 2006, older people’s access was lower than the proportion for the total population (92%).[11]

How entities use the data

MSD told us that it does not use the data on access to motor vehicles by older people other than to report on progress towards achieving the Positive Ageing Strategy’s goals. It publishes data on its transport Positive Ageing indicator for other agencies to use, such as the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and local government.

The MOT collects data on age in its crash analysis system,[12] New Zealand Household Travel Survey,[13] and the New Zealand Public Attitudes Survey.[14] Data on other demographic factors is also collected. This data is complementary to the census data.[15] The Ministry told us that it values the data it holds on age because it provides useful information for policy development. They understand that the 60+ population is going to increase significantly over the coming decades and that this will present significant challenges for transport policy.

Entity responsible for this indicator Ministry of Transport – transport policy
Ministry of Social Development – older people’s access to a motor vehicle.

[1] Ministry of Transport (2011), Connecting New Zealand: A summary of the government’s policy direction for transport,

[2] Connecting NZ (2011), page 3.

[3] Connecting NZ (2011), page 11.

[4] Connecting NZ (2011), page 30.

[5] Office for Senior Citizens (undated) How will you get around when you stop driving?,

[6] For information about the SuperGold cards, see

[7] For information about the total mobility scheme, see

[8] Connecting NZ (2011), page 29.

[9] New Zealand Transport Agency (2011), Requirements for urban buses in New Zealand: New Zealand’s common standard for urban bus quality, pages 8 and 17,

[10] Reports on each indicator are available at

[11] The Ministry of Transport has a set of transport indicators, one of which is “AM006 Percentage of households with access to a motor vehicle”. The 2006 census showed that 92% of all households had access to a motor vehicle. This result continued the gradual increase in access – up from 87% in 1986 (see

[12] The crash analysis system is an integrated computer system that provides tools to collect, map, query, and report on road crash and related data. Further information is available from

[13] The travel survey improves the Ministry of Transport’s understanding of how and when people travel. It gives up-to-date travel data and trends. Further information is available from

[14] The public attitudes survey has been completed periodically since 1974, and annually since 1994, to evaluate attitudes to road safety issues – mainly alcohol-impaired driving and speed. Further information is available from

[15] The census collects a small amount of information about how the whole population travels, while surveys collect detailed information from fewer people.