Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Mobility patterns of retired people: a challenge for the transportation system 2030?

Switzerland Flag
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
SVI 2001/508
STRIA Roadmaps
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

By 2030, the number of retirees and their percentage of the overall population will be much higher than it has ever been before. Compared to today’s seniors, the group of future seniors will be better educated, will have more money at their disposal and will enjoy better health. Ownership of cars and driver licenses will be higher and seniors will engage in a wider range of activities. How will these attribute changes affect the mobility patterns of future seniors? How will traffic conditions and the number of accidents be affected? What are the requirements for the future transportation system? These are the questions that this study attempted to answer.


Today's and future mobility patterns and lifestyles of seniors are analysed. Explanatory models for the relationships between lifestyle and mobility before and after retirement are developed. On the base of these relationships, the status quo in terms of lifestyle and mobility patterns is extrapolated to the year 2030.

Taking into account the ongoing development in demography, transportation demands of the senior population in 2030 are estimated. The comparison between required skills to cope with the future transportation system and the age-correlated decrease of the physical and mental capabilities of the elderly shows the transportation policy measures necessary to maintain a high level of mobility and safety of elderly people.

Questionnaires and interviews with a sample of elderly people are performed and a workshop with experts was organised to test the findings of the study.


1. Analysis of Today’s Lifestyle- and Mobility-Patterns:

Today’s lifestyle and mobility patterns have been analysed based on data from the Swiss household panel, the Swiss micro census on travel behavior (for 1989, 1994 and 2000) and proprietary surveys, including in depth interviews. Two cohorts have been distinguished, cohort 1 represents today’s elderly - (years of birth 1915-1924) and today’s young old - (years of birth 1925-1934). Cohort 2 represents those people, who in 2030 will be the elderly (years of birth 1940 -1949) and the young old (years of birth 1950-1959). A cluster analysis has been carried out.

Additional data have been collected with an additional questionnaire (written survey) with a sample size of 137 and an age span of 55 to 95.

14 in-depth interviews have been held to investigate the quality of life changes caused by transitioning from active life to retirement and by giving up driving.

2. Mobility patterns of seniors in 2030:

The expected differences in mobility patterns of future seniors compared to those of today’s seniors have been estimated (extrapolated) on the basis of the demographic development and the aging process of the cohorts. The estimations have been backed by a literature analysis.

3. Effects on the transport system in 2030:

Based on the mobility pattern estimates of future seniors and the federal perspectives of the demographic evolvement, the effects on the travelling schemes of the year 2030 have been derived. The findings have been presented in a workshop with experts.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Private foundation
Institution Name
Association of Transportation Engineers
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


1. Today’s Lifestyle- and Mobility-Patterns:

In the youngest age group (years of birth 1950-1959) life styles are dominated by professional duties. In the group of those who will retire in the short term (years of birth 1950-1959), the life style patterns are more diverse. Shortly after retirement, the diversification of life styles gets even more pronounced. In addition to professional status and health, education and gender become the main factors determining the lifestyle. With aging, the diversity of lifestyles is further reduced and for the elderly, only two clusters determined by gender remain.

The results of the in-depth interviews indicate that retirement is accompanied by a change in mobility patterns in terms of mode choice and travel purposes, but does not result in a major reduction of mobility. Giving up driving is emotionally difficult and many individuals feel limited in their mobility afterwards.

2. Mobility patterns of seniors in 2030:

The estimated changes in the characteristics of mobility patterns of future seniors (in 2030) compared to those of today’s seniors show the following results: 

  • daily number of trips per person: +20-25% for individuals with driver's license; +15% for women without driver's license; +/- equal for men without driver's license (DL). 
  • daily mileage driven per person: +25% for men with DL; +20% for women with DL; +10% for individuals without DL.
  • average duration of travelling: +25% men with DL; +20% women with DL; +5% individuals without DL.
  • share of trips (and mileage) per car: +/- equal for men with DL and individuals without DL; +10% for women with DL.
  • share of mobile people: +5% for men; +10% for women

3. Effects on the transport system in 2030:

Based on the mobility pattern estimates of future seniors and the federal perspectives of the demographic evolvement, the travelling schemes of the year 2030 will show the following differences compared to today:

a) Number of trips:

  • The sum of all trips made within the transportation system (all modes) will be approx. 20% higher.
  • Overall, the number of trips by car will increase by 13 to 22%. Trips by car made by seniors will increase much more, by a factor of 3.7 for women and 2.9 for men. Of all car trips, the percentage of those made by seniors will increase from 10% today to 25% in future.
  • Depending on mode choice behaviour of the population aged 65 or less,

    Policy implications

    I. Requirements for the future transportation system:

    The study recommends an extensive list of measures suitable to contribute to the achievement of the requirements. In general, these measures not only improve the mobility of seniors, but that of all transportation participants. Examples of suggested measures are:

    • Land use planning: Concentration of developments at locations with developed public transportation. Encouraging seniors to move from isolated residential locations poorly served by public transportation to the centres.
    • Transportation planning and policy: The focus should be switched from high speeds and capacity to a simplification of participation in transport by means of reducing the complexity of the transportation system (which is partially caused by high speeds in traffic and too short transfer times in public transportation).
    • Design, operation and organisation of transport infrastructures: e.g. construction of wide enough and separated bicycle and footpaths, longer green times for pedestrians at traffic signals; lengthening transfer times in public transport, more seats in buses and trams, improved sensitivity of staff (esp. drivers), better readability/design of traffic signs.
    • Vehicle technology: Support of development and application of driver assistance systems, which will make the driving task for seniors easier and generally enhance safety.
    • In public transportation, the well known measures to provide safe and comfortable trips,such as passenger compartments without steps, wider corridors, comfortable seats, wide doors etc. remain of main importance in light of an increasing number of old passengers. In addition, air conditioning, readable displays, well audible announcements of the next stop etc. will make the use of public transportation easier for seniors.
    • Training courses: In training courses, similar to the already existing ones, seniors learn to handle new technologies (e.g. ticket machines, information systems, driver assistance systems) and get familiarized with new traffic regulations. Special courses where driving theory and practise are repeated and trained, seniors should be encouraged to travel regularly in order to maintain their capabilities as participants in transportation.
    • In a similar way as individuals prepare for retirement, they should prepare for the time when they are no longer capable of driving a car. They should be given advice, e.g. by their doctor or another person of their confidence, on


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


Contribute! Submit your project

Do you wish to submit a project or a programme? Head over to the Contribute page, login and follow the process!