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Senior groups call for free public transport for elderly

Senior groups call for free public transport for elderly

A string of crashes involving elderly drivers has prompted a call for public transport to be made free for older Victorians.

John Finnigan, 78, catches buses and trains every week, but he says he would do it more if it were free.

Concerned by a spate of crashes involving elderly drivers in recent months, he's writing to the transport minister suggesting public transport be free for seniors everyday between 9.30 and 3.30pm - as it is in Western Australia.

But the move could be expensive, with 27,000 seniors using public transport each weekday, generating nearly $20m in revenue a year.

Currently, senior card holders enjoy free public transport on the weekend and they pay half price during the week.

Lobby groups say the whole system needs improving to get more people who should not be driving off the road.

Last year, one in six drivers over 71 failed their VicRoads medical review, but Victoria's Council on Ageing (COTA) says many cannot use public transport because it is too far away, or will not taken them where they need to go.

"We still have great gaps for older people," said Sue Hendy, CEO for the Victorian branch of COTA. "The further you live out from the city, the harder it gets."